Menlo College hires Aiona as men's basketball coach


Hawaii native Kaniela Aiona was named Menlo College men's basketball coach, Oaks Director of Athletics Keith Spataro announced Thursday.

Aiona, who served as an assistant coach at Saint Leo in Florida the past two years, takes over as Menlo moves into the Golden State Athletic Conference next season.

"Kaniela exhibits the kind of character that will allow him to excel as a head coach," Spataro said. "I firmly believe that his past experiences give him the unique characteristics and skills needed to succeed here at Menlo."

He takes over from Jon Surface, who was with Menlo the past nine seasons, five as head coach, and led the Oaks to the 2011 Cal Pac Conference title.

Aiona began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Central Methodist University in Missouri, where he earned a master's degree in Education. He's also spent time as an assistant at Lake Forest College and Benedictine University in Illinois before joining the staff at Saint Leo.

He has worked as a Chicago regional scout for ClibHoops, trained national team members from Italy, Latvia, Ukraine, Greece, China and Taiwan and worked for Attack Athletics in 2011 where he trained six NBA Draftees.

"I'm excited about the direction of the school, the direction of the athletic department and the tremendous coaches and staff that are in place," said Aiona. "The success that Menlo is seeing in all sports is really exciting to me and I can clearly see that Menlo treats athletics as a very important piece of the culture the college."

Aiona earned his bachelor's degree from Webster University in Missouri. He played basktball all four years, helping the school to a pair of conference championships and an NCAA national tournament appearance.

He was named to both the all-conference and academic all-conference teams and graduated among the Top 10 in points, rebounds, blocks and free throws made.

"I've been at several small colleges and played small college basketball and I think that the culture and the relationships that are forged at this level and at places like Menlo are the things that give me such a passion for what I do," Aiona said. "I'd like to thank Keith Spataro, Dr. Moran, Vice President Steven Weiner and all the staff and players that welcomed me from the moment I stepped on campus. I'd also like to thank all my former players, coaches, family and friends and my wife Kelly, all of whom have shown me tremendous love and support along the way."

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Menlo Athletics

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