Kaniela Aiona was announced as the assistant men's basketball coach in September of 2013. Aiona joined the Lions after spending the last two years at Division III Benedictine University where he served in the same role.
"I have known Kaniela for several years and he has played for and worked for some of my best friends in the coaching profession," said Randall. "He has a great understanding of the game and had tremendous experience, having worked for some outstanding small college programs. He has also been a stalwart at the legendary Pete Newell camp and served as a professional scout at both Portsmouth and the NBA pre-draft combine. He has spent a significant amount of time working for Michael Jordan's former trainer Tim Grover and the most constant thing I heard was high praise for Kaniela from all. He is a great person and will be a tremendous asset for the young men in our basketball program as well as the entire Saint Leo community."
Aiona joined a men's basketball program that won the 2012-2013 Sunshine State Conference regular-season title and appeared in its second consecutive NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship. Overall, the Lions went a program-record 22-8 during the regular season, defeated Division I Miami (Fla.) during a November exhibition and were regularly ranked in the top-25 in the nation.
In his first full season, Saint Leo would surpass its previous record for wins in a season, posting a 24-9 mark in 2013-2014. The Lions also advanced to their third straight NCAA Tournament.
Aiona has a wealth of basketball knowledge. He began his coaching career at Central Methodist University, where he served as a graduate assistant from 2006-2008 and earned a master's degree in Education. He was the assistant men's basketball coach at Lake Forest College from 2008-2010 where he was responsible for recruiting, scouting, player development, basketball operations and creating strength and conditioning program.
The native of Waimea, Hawai'i also served as a scout for the ClibHoops Basketball Scouting Service and served as the head basketball coach at East Bank Club in Chicago in 2010.
Aiona earned his bachelor's degree from Webster University in 2005 where he was a four-year letter-winner and team captain. He was named to the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (SLIAC) all-conference team, and helped Webster win two conference championships and make an NCAA tournament appearance.