PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona Suns announced Wednesday that former associate head coach Bret Burchard has been hired to serve as head coach for their 2018-19 season.
Burchard was a Northern Arizona Suns assistant coach during the team’s inaugural season in 2016-17. He was promoted to associate head coach entering their 2017-18 campaign shortly before getting called up to the Phoenix Suns, where he spent last season as a player development assistant.
Burchard replaces Cody Toppert at the helm of the NAZ Suns, who was called up by the Phoenix Suns to serve as Director of Player Development. Toppert is one of four coaches who has received a call-up to the NBA (Ty Ellis, Burchard, Brandon Rosenthal) in the team’s history.
This will be Burchard’s first year as a head coach in the NBA G League as he becomes the third head coach in Northern Arizona Suns history.
“We are thrilled to welcome Bret back to the Northern Arizona Suns family as our next head coach,” NAZ Suns General Manager Louis Lehman said. “Bret has been with the Suns organization since before I began over six years ago and we’ve been able to build a great relationship with each other throughout the years. I’ve witnessed Bret’s rise through the video room to the coaching ranks and seen a tremendous amount of growth in not only his coaching ability, but also his leadership. Bret’s core values align with what the Suns organization looks for in a head coach and I’m excited to watch him develop our talented group of G League players and coaches.”
The Northern Arizona Suns tied the best start through the first 11 games of a season (10-1) in NBA G League history under Ellis’ and Burchard’s watch in 2016-17. The team finished 22-28 in its inaugural season, which was also Burchard’s first year coaching at the professional level.
Burchard, 32, has spent the last eight years with the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury and Northern Arizona Suns. He worked 2013-16 as the Phoenix Suns’ video coordinator after spending 2010-13 in the basketball communications department for the Mercury and Suns.
“I am very excited to return to the Northern Arizona community and build upon the young tradition of our G League program,” Burchard said. “I thank Ryan McDonough, Louis Lehman and the entire Suns front office for continuing to invest in my growth as a coach and professional, and Coach Kokoškov for trusting me to assist in the development of our team’s young talent. I’m looking forward to doing my part in Prescott Valley to continue the NAZ Suns’ brand of elite-level basketball the community can be proud of, while also helping the rise of the Phoenix Suns.”
Before joining the Suns organization, Burchard was an assistant coach for two years at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, where he also went to school and played basketball. A Columbia, Missouri, native, Burchard earned his degree in sports management and public relations from Taylor in 2008.