This week Hawaii confirmed the addition of Biwali Bayles and Manel Ayol for the 2020/21 season, increasing the total number of Australians on the Rainbow Warriors' roster to five.
Rainbow Warriors head coach Eran Ganot is no stranger to tapping the talent pipeline from down under following his time as an assistant at Saint Mary's. His latest additions will join fellow Aussies Mate Colina, Owen Hulland, and Junior Madut for their next Big West Conference campaign.
Incoming freshman Bayles is a standout 6'1 point guard from New South Wales who has been attending the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence program. An Australian junior national team representative, he helped Australia win the 2019 FIBA Under 17 Oceania Championships, averaging 9.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3 assists per game. Further international exposure was gained when he participated in the Basketball Without Borders event at the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago.
Biwales would back up an impressive 2019 with a stellar showing at the 2020 Under 20 Australian National Championships. He averaged an outstanding 20.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game for New South Wales, delivering a rare triple-double in a quarterfinal showdown with South Australia.
Ganot was excited when discussing what Bayles brought to the team.
"We really look forward to what Biwali will bring to our program," said Ganot. "He's fast, athletic, can score in bunches, and is a great competitor. His personality and leadership qualities make him a great fit here. We're absolutely thrilled to add him to our basketball 'ohana."
A 6'7 junior transfer, Ayol arrives in Mano as an NJCAA Second Team All-American while he also picked up the Region IX Player of the Year Award after averaging 16.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists for Western Wyoming College in Rock Springs, Wyoming. The sharpshooting forward would help guide his school to its first NJCAA Region IX title in nearly a decade and their best season in history.
"Manel enjoyed phenomenal success during his two years at Western Wyoming," explained Ganot on adding the junior transfer. "He has a combination of size, skill and athleticism that will provide a jolt for our program. He's gotten to this point through hard work and sacrifice. We couldn't be more happy for him and his family and are extremely excited for his arrival here in Hawai'i."
Like his good friend and now teammate Madut, Ayol was born in South Sudan and raised in Melbourne. Ayol moved to the US in 2015 to play for Far Northeast High School in Denver eventually finding his way to Western Wyoming.
Hawaii finished the 2019/20 season in fourth place in the Big West standings. With almost half their roster filled with Australians, the Rainbow Warriors will be looking to emulate the success of the Gaels in the West Coast and challenge for the 2020/21 title.