Born of Jewish parents, Yanni Hufnagel grew up in Scarsdale, New York where he actively played lacrosse and basketball in High School, until he was cut from the varsity basketball team his junior year. Fortunately for basketball, his relationship with the sport would not stop there, as he went on to take a position commentating games for very the team he was cut from, reaching local access and cable tv audiences, and permitting Yanni Hufnagel the opportunity to perform, if not visually for audiences, at least audibly. It was while commentating for these high school games that Yanni’s charisma and knowledge of the game would plant the seed necessary for growing his way towards a career in a game that he was once told he wasn’t good enough to compete in.
Yanni Hufnagel’s career in basketball started to take root in 2009 when he become the assistant coach for Harvard University’s Mens basketball team, the Harvard Crimson. He proved his chops as assistant coach by aggressively recruiting top talent to the school, helping to pave the way for unparalleled success in the schools modern program. During his four year reign as assistant coach, the Harvard Crimson boasted an impressive 90-30 winning record, and a spectacular showing in the 2013 NCAA tournament, when Harvard bested number three ranked New Mexico in a shocking upset.
After Harvard, Yanni Hufnagel went on to staff coaching positions with Vanderbilt, University of California, Berkley, and University of Nevada, Reno, and experienced various levels of success. During his time with the California Golden Bears, he was able to help lift the team to a 2016 NCAA playoff slot, but his success at the school was overshadowed due to allegations of sexual harassment by a female news reporter, which ultimately resulted in his termination from the University, despite his appeals for justice. Yanni would go on to become responsible for one more NCAA berth, in 2017, while on the coaching staff for University of Nevada, Reno, but it would be his last tournament appearance as a college assistant basketball coach, as the details from the sexual harassment case would ultimately prove too damaging for the perpetuation of his college coaching career, despite all his years of success.