Yanni Hufnagel’s new assignment at Vanderbilt

Harvard University’s men’s basketball reached new highs, including their first ever victory in March Madness under Yanni Hufnagel’s tenure as the team’s assistant coach. Yanni is known in the basketball coaching world for his excellent work ethic and his canny knack for evaluating and recruiting talent.


After four seasons with Harvard University, Yanni Hufnagel has been hired as the assistant coach for Vanderbilt University replacing Brad Fredrick. Yanni could not turn down the attractive offer, given Vanderbilt’s similarities with Harvard in being one of the best academic institutions and owning a scenic campus. The two institutions also share great success in contributing players to the NBA. As much as Yanni enjoyed working with Harvard and found it hard to tell his players that he would moving on. Nevertheless, Yanni equally looks forward to his new assignment with Vanderbilt with excitement and enthusiasm.


Yanni attributes his success in churning out NBA stars to three fundamental qualities he looks for in a player – being a winner, being coachable and being someone Yanni likes to spend time professionally. These three qualities are interdependent in many ways and Yanni approaches his responsibility of spotting, grooming talent with positive attitude and loads of energy. The rest, he feels, will fall in place.


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Hufnagel’s earlier experience in organizing the recruiting database for University of Oklahoma has helped him spot the importance of quantitative analysis in evaluating talent in basketball. Yanni sees quantitative analysis playing bigger roles in future for locating talented players, though he thinks it will never be like baseball, where the analysis focus shifts to pitcher versus batter.

Amidst the strides he is making as an assistant coach, Yanni thinks he is not ready to dunk yet. He could, however, try his hand at shooting the ball high staying steady on his feet. None could challenge that, given Hufnagel’s track record in coaching some excellent shooters in his coaching term.


As Yanni Hufnagel travels south to accept the next challenge of his career at Vanderbilt, the lessons he learnt in evaluating prospective players with four sets of eyes instead of two and getting s feel during conversation with players will definitely serve him well as critical skills that impact his success and Vanderbilt’s.




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