PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona Suns announced Sunday that they have finalized their coaching staff entering the team’s second season in the NBA G League.
Ty Ellis returns as head coach to lead the NAZ Suns for his second season with the team and sixth season as a coach in the G League.
The 40-year-old got the Suns off to a record start in their inaugural season, as they won their first eight games at home as part of a 10-1 overall start. This tied the G League record for the best start through the first 11 games of a season (Rio Grande Valley Vipers in 2013-14, Iowa Energy in 2009-10 and Columbus Riverdragons in 2004-05).
Ellis’ leadership led to strong development of multiple NAZ Suns, including players who got minutes in the NBA last season in Derrick Jones Jr., Johnny O’Bryant and Elijah Millsap. O’Bryant and Millsap marked the first two GATORADE Call-Ups in Northern Arizona Suns history. Jones plays for Northern Arizona’s parent club, the Phoenix Suns, while O’Bryant is a member of the Charlotte Hornets.
NAZ Suns General Manager Louis Lehman knows how much potential Ellis has and is excited he is returning for another season in Prescott Valley.
“Ty has done an excellent job of embracing the Suns’ philosophy of growth and development,” Lehman said. “His leadership, passion, knowledge, and teaching of the game has allowed many of our players to raise their game to the next level and see success not only in the NBA, but also see better opportunities internationally.”
The Suns finished last season 22-28.
Northern Arizona will retain the same threesome of coaches under Ellis in Bret Burchard, Tyler Gatlin and Brandon Rosenthal. However, Burchard has been elevated to Associate Head Coach.
Burchard was a member of the Phoenix Suns for six years before becoming a NAZ Suns assistant coach last season. Ellis gave the reins to Burchard in the first half of the Suns game against the Austin Spurs on March 29.
The 31-year-old served two years as an assistant coach at Taylor University, his alma mater, in Upland, Indiana, before coming to Phoenix in 2010.
Gatlin and Rosenthal remain assistant coaches under Ellis.
This will be Gatlin’s third year working with Ellis as the two were both assistant coaches for the Bakersfield Jam in 2015-16. The 30-year-old spent four seasons (2011-2015) with the Texas Legends where he held roles as a video coordinator, scout and assistant coach.
Rosenthal, 29, begins his second season in the G League after spending 2015-16 with the Houston Rockets as a member of the basketball operations video department. Rosenthal joined the Rockets after spending nearly eight years working at the collegiate level in basketball operations and coaching.
“It’s very rare in this industry to see an entire coaching staff retained from one season to the next,” Lehman said. “Bret had a few opportunities this summer to interview for head coaching positions in the G League, which goes to show how teams around the league view him and that it’s only a matter of time before he becomes a head coach. We are thrilled to have him, Tyler and Brandon return to what we feel is the best coaching staff in the G League. Tyler and Brandon are meticulous workers that have a great wealth of knowledge, experience, and ambition that will without a doubt lead to long coaching careers.”
The Northern Arizona Suns have also finalized their athletic training staff for the season.
Jervae Odom becomes the Head Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach, replacing Johnny Mak, who took a similar role for the UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia.
Odom comes to Prescott Valley after spending the last six years as the athletic trainer and strength coach for the Reno Bighorns.
Michelle Ruan returns for her second season as NAZ Suns Assistant Athletic Trainer. Ruan earned her Master’s degree in athletic training at CBU in Riverside, California.
Season tickets are now on sale for the Northern Arizona Suns’ second year in the NBA G League. Visit nazsuns.com/memberships to view available full or half season membership options at the Prescott Valley Event Center. Season tickets start at just $192 and come with a plethora of benefits, including first right of refusal for playoff tickets and exclusive events with the team.