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Arizona threads being woven into this new Phoenix Suns team

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The Phoenix Suns seem to be making connections with valley sports fans in new ways, now adding former ASU guard Jamelle McMillan to the coaching staff.

You can’t go back to the old days. Too many burned bridges. It’s time to build a new future in the Valley with a new set of Phoenix Suns stars to stake their claim.

The Suns know this. But they also apparently know it can’t hurt to have SOME threads to valley sports fans woven in.

First it’s Igor Kokoskov who coached on the last Suns playoff team and built a deep connection with the Phoenix area. His family even stayed here after he left town.

Now it’s Jamelle McMillan who just graduated from Arizona State University in 2011 and is coming over to the Suns from Alvin Gentry’s staff in New Orleans. Jamelle, son of long time NBA player and coach Nate McMillan, played all four eligible years at ASU through 2011, then made his move toward the NBA bench not as a player but as a coach.

McMillan went undrafted in the 2011 NBA Draft, but rather than taking the route of the majority of undrafted players and jumping to Europe or the D-League, he had his eyes set on coaching from the outset. McMillan, who told the New York Daily News in November 2009 he dreamed of being an NBA head coach or general manager, took a position at Drake University as coordinator of basketball operations almost immediately after graduation in May 2011. He stayed at Drake until October 2012, when the then-New Orleans Hornets hired him as a coaching intern; McMillan is currently listed as a player development coach for the Pelicans.

He spent the summer of 2012 helping his dad with U.S.A. Olympics practices, and then has been with the Pelicans since 2012.

He has never been out of a job more than two weeks since graduation.

Scott Bordow of azcentral.com caught up with Jamelle, who still loves his time from ASU and is excited to get back here.

“I still get excited when I see people in airports all over the country with the Sun Devil pitchfork.”

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Here’s a nice article on McMillan with the Pelicans when he coached their summer league team in 2017. It was Alvin Gentry who gave McMillan this great opportunity despite still being a player development coach.

Just one week in, the Pelicans’ summer league coach has come across as a seasoned veteran, handling duties on the court and fielding media questions with the poise you’d expect from a guy who’s been around basketball his entire life.

“Unbelievable,” he describes it. “I’ve been here six years. This city (New Orleans) has been unbelievable to me. This organization has been unbelievable to me. I have the opportunity to lead these guys in the summer league situation where they are trying to establish themselves and create a path for themselves, so it’s pretty cool.”

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Now Jamelle takes his next step. At 29, he is excited to become the youngest front-row assistant in the NBA this coming season.

He joins a young staff, with 35 year old player development guy Devin Smith, 44-year old Corliss Williamson, 46-year old Igor, and 49-year old Associate Head Coach Joe Prunty.

Wait a damn second. They are ALL younger than me. sunuvabi—-

McMillan reiterated what we’ve heard from Igor before — that every coach will participate in every coaching aspect. Not just bigs or wings. Not just offense or defense. And not just coaching or player development. They will all work to their strengths but not be limited by preconceived job descriptions.

“That was something that was really intriguing for me from a growth standpoint, being 29 years old,” McMillan said.

McMillan was still under contract with the Pelicans, but is allowed to leave for a promotion and this is certainly one of those.

So now the Suns have brought in an old Suns link (Kokoskov) and ASU link (McMillan).

Later this week, could they be bringing in someone with ties to not only Phoenix but also University of Arizona?

Maayyyybe.