While being interviewed at Harvard University, Yanni Hufnagel checked his phone to see a text from NBA star Jeremy Lin. The Houston Rockets guard was asking if the 30-year-old Jewish man wanted tickets to that nights NBA game. Of course, the answer was yes.
Here’s where we will play a thought experiment. Who do you think Yanni Hufnagel is? You might think he is a sports agent, or a high-level businessman or banker. But that would just be your stereotypical view of this situation. Instead, Yanni Hufnagel is an assistant coach for the University at Reno’s basketball team.
Yanni Hufnagel knows Jeremy Lin from his Harvard coaching days. Yanni Hufnagel got his big break in 2009 to become the assistant coach for the Crimson Tide. Here he would garner his fame as one of the country’s top recruiters. He put together a team that went 79-24 and four years while winning a first-ever Ivy League championship.
The young Jewish assistant coach has also coached at Oklahoma, Vanderbilt and the University of California, Berkeley. He has gained a reputation as a ruthless recruiter. He was able to put a top-five recruiting class together for UC Berkeley. And he was awarded assistant coach most likely to become famous because of recruiting in a CBS Sports poll of college coaches.
Yanni Hufnagel has done all of this despite not being able to play basketball well himself. He was cut from his high school varsity basketball team in Scarsdale, New York. He went on to attend his own Ivy League school at Cornell, but instead of becoming a lawyer, doctor or businessman, he became a college coach.
He has paid his dues. He has washed player jerseys as an unpaid intern for the New Jersey Nets, and he put together the Ivy League championship team at Harvard as an unpaid assistant coach. It’s high time he gets his own program.