Yanni Hufnagel has paid his dues. He has taken a variety of unpaid jobs in order to forge a path to his dream job — head basketball coach at a Division I college.
Yanni Hufnagel grew up in a quiet Jewish community in Scarsdale, New York. It’s the kind of place where kids are expected to go to good colleges and get good jobs. Yanni Hufnagel certainly went to a good college at Cornell University, but he hasn’t made so much money chasing his dream just yet.
It all began in college when he was an unpaid intern for the New Jersey Nets. He washed soiled players jerseys before becoming a graduate assistant at Oklahoma. He learned how to recruit while at Oklahoma. At the same time, he was sacrificing his own time in order to make Sooner players better. One of these players is NBA star Blake Griffin who has the utmost respect for the young Jewish coach.
He then took an unpaid assistant coaching job at Harvard in 2009. Harvard does not dish out athletic scholarships nor does it lowered its academic standards for basketball players. Despite these shortcomings, Yanni Hufnagel put together a killer squad that won the schools first Ivy League championship. The 79-24 record during his four-year tenure speaks for itself, but 2011 really stands out. Harvard won a school record 26 games, became nationally ranked for the first time in history and Yanni Hufnagel was awarded assistant coach most likely to succeed by a CBS Sports poll.
He took an assistant coaching job at Vanderbilt before serving two years at UC Berkeley. He was able to recruit NBA draft picks at both schools, assembling stellar backcourt. He is now the assistant coach at the University of Nevada, Reno, and he is waiting for his big break.