Yanni Hufnagel was born on August 26, 1982. His parents, Joni and Thierry, brought him up in a traditional Jewish lifestyle in Scarsdale, New York. While in high school he was cut from the varsity basketball team but became a color commentator for the team’s games for a local cable TV channel. Upon graduation from high school, he began attending Pennsylvania State University but soon transferred to Cornell University, earning a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations in 2006. After college, Yanni would begin his college basketball coaching career with Oklahoma University in 2007.
There he served as graduate assistant coach for their men’s basketball team. But his stint here was only the beginning for him. In 2009 he departed OU to assistant coach at Harvard from 2009 to 2013. However, he would still maintain a student relationship with Oklahoma until 2010, graduating with an M.A. in Adult and Higher Education with an Emphasis in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration. During his time with Harvard, he was in 2011 named the mid-major assistant coach most likely to “make it big time due to his recruiting ability.
According to The Crimson, his reputation as a top recruiter would only continue to rise. All of his four years with Harvard were said to be some of the most successful of his career. Then from 2013 to 2014, he assistant coached at Vanderbilt. During that year he helped head coach Kevin Stallings lead the Vanderbilt Commodores. then California from 2014 to 2016. During those years he assisted head coach Cuonza Martin to lead the California Golden Bears. Then he assistant coached Nevada from 2016 to 2017. In this final coaching position, he assisted head coach, Eric Musselman, lead the Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball team.
Hufnagel was hired for the staff along with Dave Rice, the former UNLV coach, and Ronald Dupree, a former NBA basketball player. Hufnagel and these other men helped Musselman take the team to both the 2016 NCAA Tournament and the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Throughout most of his exemplary career, Yanni Hufnagel had been hailed as one of the top recruiters in college basketball. In addition, throughout his career, he had been known for his extraordinarily high work ethic, energy, enthusiasm, and strong character. He was 34-years-old at the time of his retiring from the sport.