If you ever wanted to get a taste of professional basketball before, a trip to Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix was required. With the Northern Arizona Suns in town, a taste of the NBA is right here in Prescott Valley.
Many current and former NAZ Suns have played basketball at the highest level in the world.
Xavier Silas was once a Philadelphia 76er, getting time in the playoffs. Alec Peters is with the Phoenix Suns, but spent a lot of his time in the Quad-City area playing. Other NAZ stars Derrick Jones Jr., Johnny O’Bryant and Elijah Millsap all went straight from Prescott Valley to the NBA.
Even the NAZ Suns 2016-17 coaching staff was quickly recognized as being of NBA caliber. Head Coach Ty Ellis, Associate Head Coach Bret Burchard and Assistant Coach Brandon Rosenthal were all called up to the Phoenix Suns just before Northern Arizona kicked off its 2017-18 training camp. That means every time you watch a Phoenix Suns game, you will be able to spot three former NAZ coaches roaming the sideline.
Ellis has long said he loved his time coaching in Prescott Valley, making it known the community made him feel like he was family. As the 40-year-old climbs the ranks of the NBA as a coach, he’s assuredly going to bring up Prescott Valley to people when they ask where he got it all started.
So, no, you’re not going to see LeBron James or Kevin Durant at the Prescott Valley Event Center any time soon. But you will see the future stars of the NBA. The community even got to see the current stars of the NBA, like Devin Booker, when the Phoenix Suns played a scrimmage at PVEC.
Take advantage of the great quality of play and the great quality of character from the Northern Arizona Suns while you can. Because if you wait too long, some of them might already be in the NBA for the world to see. Also, take advantage of events the NAZ Suns throw for kids in the area. In addition to attending schools during the season, the Suns host an annual camp where kids of all ages learn the game from professional coaches.
Students will get to learn from the whole team at the NAZ Suns’ first-ever Kids Day Game on Jan. 23. Not only will kids receive an interactive workbook and have a great time at a basketball game, they will also learn determination and how the team works toward a unified goal, becoming the best at their craft, and winning a championship for Prescott Valley.
Where is he now?
You might have noticed that the NAZ Suns have a new athletic trainer treating players this season. Jervae Odom has joined the team after Johnny Mak took his talents overseas. Mak joined the UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia, taking on a similar role he had with Northern Arizona. Of the 18 players who donned a Suns’ uniform last year, only four missed a combined 13 games due to injury, thanks to Mak and Assistant Athletic Trainer Michelle Ruan. With Ruan back and G League veteran Odom coming on, the Suns are still in good shape – literally.