Hawaii Hilo Men’s Basketball Staff Update

A new era of Hawai`i Hilo men’s basketball looms in 2020-21 with the recent hiring and homecoming of head coach Kaniela Aiona.

Another piece of that building block was added today with the announcement of Aiona’s assistant coaches. Aiona, the former head coach for five seasons at Menlo College, brings his associate head coach Jamison Montgomery to Hilo, and also adds longtime successful Humboldt State head coach Steve Kinder to his staff. 

Montgomery worked with Aiona for the last four seasons at Menlo, while Kinder spent over 30 years in Arcata as a player, assistant coach and head coach. He directed the Lumberjack program as the head coach for the past ten seasons.

“Jamison and Steve are a great fit for our Vulcan ‘Ohana because they are terrific coaches with exceptional character,” Aiona said. “I respect the passion they have in helping young men develop on and off the floor.”

Montgomery spent four years at Menlo and was named to the Under Armour 30 Under 30 club, presented to the top assistant coaches in the nation by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). The Oaks were ranked as high as 16th in the NAIA, won 20 games and qualified for the NAIA tournament for the first time in school history. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach at his alma mater, Rufus King High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He also worked at Iowa Lakes CC as the assistant athletic director and assistant basketball coach, overseeing game management among other duties. He played for four seasons at Benedictine University (Chicago), helping to lead his team to three conference championships. Aiona was an assistant coach at Benedictine during that time.

“Jamison is a hard worker and one of the brightest young coaches in college basketball,” Aiona added. “I have had the honor of coaching him as a player and coaching with him the past four years. Jamison was a fierce competitor as a player and he has developed into a skilled recruiter and game planner in his coaching career.”

“I am thrilled to become apart of the Vulcan family and the Hilo community,” Montgomery said.  “I’m ecstatic about the opportunity to work with our players as well as continuing to work with coach Aiona and another great staff. I can’t wait to help the Vulcans reach new heights.”

Kinder played a large role in helping to bring 11 conference titles to the Humboldt State campus. Three of those CCAA championships (California Collegiate Athletic Association) came during the last ten years with Kinder at the helm of the Lumberjack program. Prior to that he was the lead assistant under legendary head coach Tom Wood for 22 seasons, where the Lumberjacks won seven CCAA titles. As a player for the ‘Jacks Kinder also won a championship banner. He was inducted into the HSU Athletics Hall of Fame earlier this year, and also has an NCAA Coach of the Year trophy on his mantle, along with NCAA West Region and CCAA Coach of the Year honors. 

“Steve holds a wealth of experience at the NCAA Division II level,” Aiona lauded. “He has a track record of success in the west region as both an assistant and head coach. Steve has helped develop some of the best basketball players and teams in Division II over the past 20+ years.”

“I am excited to join the Vulcan family at University of Hawaii Hilo and help build a basketball program that will bring academic success, strong character, and community outreach,” Kinder said. “The athletic department and men’s basketball program have strong leadership and a vision of excellence for the future. I look forward to working with athletic director Pat Guillen, coach Aiona, and coach Montgomery.  We will lead these talented student athletes and teach them how to embrace the community, local youth, and have a positive influence on the Big Island.”

When the COVID allows, Kinder and Montgomery will join Aiona in making travel plans to Hilo, and begin work on developing the next chapter of Vulcan basketball.  

“I’m excited to see them connect with our athletes, campus and community with a great deal of integrity,” Aiona summerized. “We are fortunate to welcome these two experienced coaches.” 


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