The NBA does not feature any Jewish players. There aren’t many Jewish coaches to be found at the highest levels of the game, either. The most famous Jewish person associated with basketball was Red Auerbach, the Boston Celtics coach from the 50s and 60s. But it seems like Yanni Hufnagel will be the next famous Jewish man associated with high-level basketball.
Yanni Hufnagel burst onto the scene back in 2009 as an assistant coach for the Harvard Crimson Tide. Harvard is not exactly known for its basketball prowess, but Yanni Hufnagel led the school to its first-ever Ivy League championship. He is the man that literally put the pieces into place for the championship.
As assistant coach, his primary responsibility is recruiting new players for the upcoming season. He is famous for traveling the country to scour for the best talent possible. Yanni Hufnagel is not afraid to hear the word no and is famously tenacious in his recruiting process. This is what allowed him to put together that Harvard championship team. It is also what awarded him the “assistant coach most likely to make it big because of recruiting skills” award in a CBS Sports poll of Division I basketball coaches.
After taking the Harvard Crimson Tide to a 79-24 record in his four-year tenure, he moved on to Vanderbilt. Shortly after, he took an assistant coaching job at the University of California, Berkeley. At UC Berkeley, he put together a top-five recruiting class for the public university before moving on to the University of Nevada at Reno.
Yanni Hufnagel is only in his early 30s and has an illustrious career ahead of him. He seems to be following the same career trajectory as Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics. You shouldn’t be shocked to see him at the top of a Division I program sometime soon.