Yanni Hufnagel — The Next Red Auerbach?

I love watching March madness. College basketball is the purest form of the game at the highest level. The NBA players are strange version of basketball, but it is not real. In the MBA, they can’t even play zones and there’s something called an “illegal defense.” The NBA’s rules are designed to make the greatest athletes on the floor even greater. It’s kind of boring.


The best thing about college basketball is watching the strategies unfold. Coaches have a much larger influence over the game at the college level, and it is really fun to watch. One of my favorite young coaches out there is named Yanni Hufnagel.


This guy is pretty rare in the basketball world because he is Jewish. There aren’t any Jewish players in the MBA and there hasn’t been a big name Jewish coach since Red Auerbach. Yanni Hufnagel is only in his early 30s and he’s got such a bright future ahead of him.


Yanni Hufnagel really caught my attention when he was working as a recruiter and assistant coach for the University of California at Berkeley. He was responsible for 2015’s top five recruiting class that nabbed McDonald’s All-Americans Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb. But it was his work a few years ago that really stands out.


Yanni Hufnagel cut his recruiting teeth at Harvard University. As an unpaid assistant coach, he assembled the school’s first Ivy League championship team. And he was able to recruit through the fact that Harvard does not dish out athletic scholarships nor does it lower academic standards for basketball players. It earned him an accolade from CBS Sports saying he was the assistant coach most likely to make it big in the near future because of his recruiting chops. He is just as young, hungry and intelligent as Brad Stevens was for he blew up.


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