Yanni Hufnagel was recently interviewed by Molly Parr as part of series in which people with a link to the Boston Jewish community discuss their professions. Hufnagel was part of the Harvard men’s coaching staff that led the team to a victory in the NCAA March Madness tournament. He has now taken a job as assistant coach at Vanderbilt University. While he sees the academic excellence in both schools, he does acknowledge that Vanderbilt has a stronger tradition of basketball success. That is in part due to its role as an SEC school and the amount of players it has sent to the NBA. The fact that their games are often nationally televised means that the school has a stronger link to college basketball.
The move was a tough decision for Yanni Hufnagel as he was so invested in Harvard and its basketball program. Yanni Hufnagel has worked with two players that became stars in the NBA, Blake Griffin and Jeremy Lin, and he has a philosophy on how to recognize top level talent. Along with looking at the playing talent of a recruit, Yanni Hufnagel believes in the importance of character and the ability of a player to be willing to learn. He wants to be surrounded by players whose company he enjoys. Yanni Hufnagel knows that studying the analytics of a player is becoming more and more important, but he also knows that the traditional qualities are more important in basketball than baseball. An analysis of stats can help recruit a player, but there are more intangibles in basketball that need to be taken into account.
Molly Parr ends by asking Yanni if he knows how to dunk a basketball. He answers with the same humility that has made him such a popular figure. With enough time and space, he believes he could make the shot, but the reason he spends so much time recruiting the best talent is so that they can do that instead. Learn more about Yanni on wikivisually.com