Coach Yanni Hufnagel Works To Change Jewish Sports Stigma

It’s not insensitive, it’s just plain true that one of the last people groups closely associated with higher division and professional basketball, is the Jewish community. One coach however, has shown the potential to alter this. Yanni Hufnagel, an assistant coach for the Nevada Wolf Pack, has exhibited the organizational and recruitment skills to quickly change the sentiment.


Yanni Hufnagel is the son of Jewish German immigrants who, prior to WWII, were standout sports enthusiasts in their native country. As he approached thirty years of age, Hufnagel found himself living in Boston. He had a lucrative career, but desired deeply to follow a dual passion for people and sports.


In an unpredictable shift, he made the decision to pursue basketball coaching. Admittedly, he was never a great player, but every team he has worked with has enjoyed his propensity for finding talented basketball players. Yanni Hufnagel’s first major success was at Harvard. He led Harvard to their first Ivy League Championship, and helped launch the career of Jeremy Lin.


After Harvard, Yanni Hufnagel bolstered his coaching and recruiting career at Vanderbilt and California. Two of his most prominent recruits were five-star prospects Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb. Now that he is part of the staff at Nevada, he is already boosting the team’s profile with the recruiting and enrollment of MWC Freshman of the Year Cameron Oliver.


Yanni Hufnagel seems to bring a certain type of magic, reinvention, and even chutzpah to every basketball organization he assists. His personal drive to overcome social barriers, combined with an unfaltering love of basketball, is building his reputation as a top tier coach, recruiter, and notable Jewish sports icon.


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