Yanni Hufnagel, college basketball’s rising star—as a coach, that is—has made his latest move, leaving Vanderbilt after one year with the men’s basketball team for an assistant coaching gig at the University of California. Ben Cohen profiled Hufnagel in 2013 when the Cornell grad was on Harvard’s coaching staff, calling the 32-year-old “the paradigmatic nice Jewish boy”—and one hell of a recruiter.
Capel, now an assistant coach at Duke, said there are two things about Hufnagel that make him one of the best recruiters in the game. The first is his chutzpah. “There are sometimes kids you don’t recruit because you automatically assume they won’t have any interest,” Capel said. “Yanni doesn’t think that way. He’s not afraid to hear no.” The second, is that “he’s a great salesman,” Capel said. ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg put it this way: “It’s hard not to like Yanni Hufnagel.”
Hufnagel will bring those recruiting chops to Cal, where he’ll be tasked with convincing top high school players, especially those in-state, to commit to the school.
Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings had nice things to say about Hufnagel, despite his short tenure with the team. “He did a good job for us while he was here,” he told The Tennessean.
“We wish him the best — obviously, he wasn’t here very long,” Stallings said. “He said he had a lifelong dream to be out in California, and so that’s where he’s going. We discussed the timing of it.”
Mazel tov, Hufnagel. Please promise you’ll wear sunscreen.
Previous: Harvard Basketball’s Whiz Kid