Having been offered the assistant graduate position at the University of Oklahoma, Yanni Hufnagel said, “Having never played, this was what I thought was an opportunity I just couldn’t turn down, a chance to get my foot in the door and see what I can make of it.” During his first two years with the University of Oklahoma, the Sooners advanced not only to the second round of the NCAA tournament but also made the Elite Eight with a total of 53 games won.
While at the University of Oklahoma, Hufnagel says he really got his handle on recruiting by overseeing all of the recruiting mailouts and recruiting databases. He goes on to say that recruiting is more than just convincing kids to play basketball for your school. Hufnagel stresses that it’s about school, life, and family when he’s trying to get kids to join his team. In an interview, Hufnagel said, “ And that’s what I love about it. Those relationships, if you are ever fortunate enough to carry those over and coach them, it becomes a lifelong relationship.”
Following the University of Oklahoma, Hufnagel was offered an assistant coaching position at Harvard University. This opened a whole, new world for Hufnagel which allowed him to work with players of his own. With this opportunity, Hufnagel was able to really put into practice his recruiting abilities. Recruitment for an Ivy League college can be quite challenging due to them not offering athletic scholarships for their students. Did that stop Hufnagel? You guessed it; Absolutely not! Hufnagel’s goal while at Harvard was to find high school students who had never considered going to an Ivy League college and who wanted to be first-round NBA draft picks. One of the students Hufnagel helped recruit, Zena Edosomwan, was voted as a top-100 player in his class by Scout.com
According to Hufnagel, “At the end of the day, it’s about the power of the relationship that you build and I take pride in that,” Hufnagel said. “And also having a relentless work ethic. If you can do those two things, you’re going to be a very effective recruiter.”