Yanni Hufnagel was recently hired on as an assistant coach at Vanderbilt. The appointment was fresh of the heels of leading Harvard to its first NCAA tournament win. Known for being a tenacious, top-flight scout, Hufnagel will now travel South to the city of Nashville and join the prestigious SEC Conference.
In an interview with JewishBoston.com, Hufnagel says the opportunity is one he cannot afford to pass up. While Harvard has the academic cred and beautiful campus, Vanderbilt is no slouch when it comes to academics. The city also has beautiful weather year-round and the SEC conference has a lot of tradition, having sent literally hundreds of players to the NBA.
Hufnagel says he’s proud of Harvard and all that he’s accomplished. But it’s time to move on. “It was tough to do, but necessary. A choice like this shouldn’t be easy. You hate leaving behind something you had a part of the building, but it’s the nature of the game.”
Having worked with NBA stars Jeremy Lin and Blake Griffin, Hufnagel was asked what he looks for in players.
Hufnagel responded that there are 3 things that go hand in hand when evaluating a prospect: 1. Are you coachable? 2. Do you like to win? 3. Are you someone I won’t mind getting to know or being around? “I don’t take long to determine whether or not I have a good feeling about a player.”
Hufnagel has also received a lot of good press about his recruiting abilities. “It’s very humbling hearing positive words about yourself. I always try to approach my job in a positive manner. Everything usually falls into place after that.”
When asked if he could dunk, Hufnagel responded no. I have a pretty nice jump shot when my feet are set. “I’m not sure if I’m the guy you want to shoot when the clock is running down.”