In the past, Yanni Hufnagel wasn’t shy about talking about how he led Harvard University’s men’s basketball team to their first-ever victory when he was the assistant coach during March Madness. Throughout those efforts, he also spent time as a recruiter and a scout. After that point, though, he made a career-changing decision to move south to Vanderbilt University.
At Vanderbilt, he continues working as an assistant coach, and he believes that the school has more opportunities. For example, even though Vanderbilt consists of all the same components regarding elite academics at Harvard, there are some things to add to the picture making it better. All the games air on television, there was success in sending players to the NBA, and he liked all the things the area had to offer. While he loved every opportunity he had while working at Harvard and it was tough saying goodbye to the players, he knew he was making the right decision.
When it comes down to looking for things in a player, Hufnagel wants to know if the player is someone he’ll like being around, if they’re someone he can coach, and if they’re winners. Each time he hears that he’s a good recruiter, he feels humbled by those sentiments. It’s his mission to have a contagious energy and to remain positive no matter the situation and, after that, he hopes everything will work itself out.
When he thinks about basketball being an opportunity for finding the best players that may have been overlooked by others, he believes that scouts must use quantitative analysis. He doesn’t believe that baseball and basketball are comparable because you’re looking at pitching versus batting regarding baseball. However, when you think about basketball, there’s more fluidity. Even though players are switching between sports frequently and it’s causing transformations in the NBA, he doesn’t view basketball this way.
When asked if Hufnagel can make a dunk shot, he admitted he couldn’t. He loves to shoot the ball around, though. He has, in the past, coached excellent players who can perform this shot. He would rather have them take that shot than him.