PRESCOTT VALLEY- After observing many of his players receiving the call-up to the NBA during the Northern Arizona Suns inaugural season in 2016-2017, head coach Ty Ellis received that call himself. As the team announced on Tuesday, October 24th, Ellis is one of three NAZ Suns coaches joining the NBA team following a Phoenix Suns staff shakeup.
“I was totally shocked,” Ellis said in a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon. “I was just thanking God and I teared up a little bit and I'm just excited about the opportunity.”
Ellis, Associate Head Coach Bret Burchard, and Assistant Coach Brandon Rosenthal were called up to join the Phoenix Suns coaching staff following the Sunday, October 22nd, dismissal of Phoenix Suns head coach Earl Watson. The three will now join the staff under interim head coach Jay Triano.
“It’s unfortunate that coach Watson and the other members of the staff lost their jobs,” Ellis said. “It is also part of the business. They did their job as best as they could while they were there and management made a decision that’s best for the team.”
Coaching the inaugural Northern Arizona Suns, Ellis, 40, led the team to an NBA G-League tie for the best 11 game start after going 10-1. The Northern Arizona Suns concluded their first year with a 22-28 record, as the team was in the playoff hunt until the very end. Through his experience coaching the NAZ Suns, Ellis was awarded a vast array of opportunities in the offseason, such as, being a part of the NBA Draft Combine and a coach on the United States team.
“Those things would not have happened if I wasn’t a coach in Northern Arizona,” Ellis said. “I owe Bubba Burrage and his staff tons of gratitude for giving me that opportunity.”
Meanwhile, individuals immediately embraced the new team in town as thousands supported Ellis and his players both on the court by coming to the games and off the court in the community.
“I appreciate the Northern Arizona community, the Prescott Valley community,” Ellis said. “My time there was very comfortable for my family and I, so I will never forget the time that I spent up there.”
According to the press release from the team, NAZ Suns Assistant Coach Tyler Gatlin will lead the NAZ Suns training camp, which began Tuesday. Ellis doesn’t know who will fill his shoes for this upcoming season but he is urging whoever it is to embrace the time, as he did in the inaugural season.
“Embrace the opportunity, enjoy the process,” Ellis said. “As long as you guys compete and play the right way, the Northern Arizona Suns will support you. Embrace the community, embrace the people, and they will support you.”
The NAZ Suns second season tips-off at 7 pm on Saturday, November 4th, at the Prescott Valley Event Center against the Agua Caliente Clippers.