NAZ Suns Announce 2019-20 Coaching Staff

By Jacob Withee | October 25, 2019

PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona Suns have rounded out their staff for the 2019-20 season. Jhared Simpson, Thomas Jackson, and Tanner Massey will be assistant coaches under head coach Bret Burchard. Zach O’Brien and Matthew McClaughry will serve as the team’s video coordinators. Shanice Johnson is the new head athletic trainer and Cliff Spiller is head strength and conditioning coach, both to be aided by assistant athletic trainer Gabrielle Blaylock. The Suns have also added Denny Glunt as Director of Basketball Operations.

Simpson, 33, has spent the last three years as an assistant coach in the NBA G League, part of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants’ staff from 2016-19. Simpson originally joined the Indiana Pacers’ organization in 2008, where he started as a video coordinator intern. He elevated as high as assistant video coordinator for the Pacers (2012-16), while also serving as an assistant coach for the Pacers’ Summer League teams. A former Wheeling Jesuit basketball player (2004-08), Simpson returned as a graduate assistant while earning his M.B.A. in 2010-12.

Jackson, 39, was an assistant coach for the Maine Red Claws last season. This will be his third year coaching in the NBA G League, as in 2017-18 he helped lead the Erie BayHawks to the Eastern Conference Finals as an assistant coach. Jackson enjoyed a long playing career, including 12 years professionally in Europe, the last three (2012-15) for Uppsala Basket in Sweden. He is one of the best players in Butler University’s history, a school Hall of Fame inductee in 2013. Jackson still holds the school records for career assists (540), career steals (207, tied), and single-game assists (15). He played for the Bulldogs from 1998-2002 and is still the only player in school history to record 1,000 points and 500 assists.

Massey, 31, returns to Northern Arizona, the Suns’ video coordinator and assistant offensive coordinator in 2017-18. He was an assistant coach for the Capital City Go-Go last season. This will mark Massey’s sixth season in the NBA G League, as he spent three years (2014-17) with the BayHawks, his last year there as a coach’s associate. In between his BayHawks and previous NAZ Suns stint, the Conway, South Carolina, native went overseas to be the top assistant coach for the Hiroshima Dragonflies of the B.League. Massey has also been an assistant coach for Union College in Kentucky, a graduate assistant for two years at the University of South Alabama, a video coordinator at the University of South Carolina, and a student manager for four years at Coastal Carolina University.

O’Brien joins the Suns after spending this past summer with the Phoenix Mercury as the team’s video coordinator. He played two years for Oxford Brookes University in England after a four-year stint collegiately at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine. The Albany, New York, native scored more than 1,500 points in his collegiate career for the Monks, earning Great Northeast Athletic Conference All-First Team honors as a senior in 2011-12.

McClaughry recently graduated from Michigan State University, where he was a student manager for the Spartans from 2015-19. The Clarkston, Michigan, native earned his degree in kinesiology and exercise science.

Johnson comes to the NAZ Suns after spending the last three seasons as the Long Island Nets’ head athletic trainer. This will be her sixth season in the NBA G League, having spent two years (2014-16) as the assistant athletic trainer for the Westchester Knicks. While working with the Knicks, Johnson was the assistant athletic trainer and head equipment manager for the New York Liberty of the WNBA for three seasons (2014-16). In the middle of her third WNBA season, Johnson had the opportunity to assist the head athletic trainer for the USA Olympics Women’s Basketball Team, winners of the gold medal. She earned her master’s degree at Indiana State University after finishing her undergrad at Ohio University.

Spiller also brings over NBA G League experience, serving the Delaware Blue Coats the last two years as head strength and conditioning coach. The former Philadelphia 76ers strength coach staff assistant played four years at Wagner College in New York. Spiller is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, Fellow of Applied Functional Science from the Gray Institute and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in exercise science from California University of Pennsylvania. He’s worked internships at Monmouth University and Stockton University, as well as worked as a performance coach for Parisi Speed School.

Blaylock spent the past year as an athletic trainer for IMG Academy. She was a graduate assistant at the University of Florida from 2016-18, as she earned her master’s degree in applied physiology and kinesiology – athletic training. For her undergrad, Blaylock received her degree in athletic training at Towson University.

Glunt makes his way to the NAZ Suns after spending four seasons with the Grand Rapids Drive. He began his tenure with the Drive in 2015 as a video coordinator, before serving as a coaching associate, and then Director of Basketball Operations for the last two seasons. Glunt has been involved heavily at the collegiate level since 2007, including a season at Marist College as Director of Basketball Operations from 2013-14, and four years spent as Head Manager and Video Manager at Penn State University from 2007-11, while he earned his degree. In 2014-15, the Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, native was a graduate assistant for Jacksonville University as he worked towards completing his master’s degree in organizational leadership.

Season tickets start as low as $9 per game for the Northern Arizona Suns. Benefits include exclusive team events, discounts on team gear, playoff priority and free Phoenix Suns tickets. For more information about the 24-game package, visit nazsuns.com/memberships or call 928-772-SUNS.