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January 18, 2021

Optimism In The Storm

(Winter Park, FL) - It’s no secret that in 2021, basketball, along with other sports, looks very different than last year. The Winter Park Storm of the Florida Basketball Association (FBA) are no exception. 


    As the FBA Winter League kicks off on Feb. 21st, 2021, the Storm are ready to play all-out. The Storm are a new franchise as of 2019, however, because of COVID-19 the team was unable to participate in regular season play last year. This year however, they are not the newest franchise as the FBA has added three new teams across Florida: the Gainesville Mighty Oaks, the Clermont Crocs, and the Brevard Bobcats. This puts a lot of emphasis on the Winter League this year since the games allow coach Berry Mestel and owner Ernest Jones to see how players work together, present their skills, and evaluate the talent that the team brings. The Storm have many returning players who have a lot to prove and plan on participating in the Winter League.


    Players like Dominic Douglas and Braylen Pickens, who’s returning from injury, will be exciting to watch as they are team leaders who’ve had a lot of success with the franchise. The Storm’s main scorer Renford Forbes Jr. is also expected to be showcasing his talents in the Winter League. Last season he scored a combined 97 points for the team. As these players take the court, the Storm will present a competitive roster. Although many players are returning, Aaron Taylor is one player that Jones said will be missed as Taylor has opted out of the season. 


    Ernest Jones said the biggest challenge for the team and the league will continue to be COVID-19.  Like many other leagues they are doing their best to adhere to CDC guidelines with health and safety as a priority, but a potential infection will pose many challenges. Despite these challenges the team is optimistic and motivated going into this upcoming season. After going 1-11 in the Storm’s inaugural season, the team is eager to show improvement. Jones said, “it left a bad taste in their mouth and there's a lot more at stake to play for this year”, with the team hoping to be one of four teams in the playoffs. The first step to playoffs is finalizing their roster through trial and error through the Winter League. 


    The Winter League is important for the Storm because it’s designed to simulate an actual season with real gameplay. This allows every team to test different lineups, tryout varying players, and to practice with real-game scenarios. The Winter League allows freedom for the team to experiment with no consequences to their playoff opportunity. The Winter League is beneficial to Coach Mestel and owner Jones, as well as the players as it will help prepare the team as much as possible before the regular season play so that the Storm can have a successful regular season.


    The Winter Park Storm have been working hard in their extended off season and are prepared to showcase it on the court. Their players have been improving their skills and are excited to be back to play on Feb. 21st, 2021.

    The Winter Park Storm is a Minor League Basketball Team playing in the Florida Basketball Association (FBA). The Storm is committed to having a strong sense of community and service, while upholding a standard of excellence throughout our organization. For more information on the team, please visit


Semi Pro and College Sports Network

Kylie Austin

FBA Covid update.jpg

May 27, 2020


​(Orlando, FL) – Despite challenges from the worldwide pandemic, the Florida Basketball Association (FBA) intends to play a season in 2020.

Over the past several weeks, the FBA Board of Governors and Board of Directors have outlined a variety of scenarios regarding hosting a season in spite of the complexities caused by Covid-19. Two very specific goals have been firmly established:

  1. The FBA will make every attempt to host a season, if at all possible, in 2020 regardless of how delayed it might be.

  2.  To aid with logistical challenges and the unknowns health concerns, the entire 2020 FBA season will take place in one centralized yet to be named location in Florida.

In preparation for this contingency plan, the league has made the appropriate adjustments and investments to salvage the 2020 season while also enhancing the quality and production of FBA games. With the unlikelihood of fans being willing or able to attend large gatherings, all games from the centralized location will be streamed Live for the public.

“In this challenging time, we see this as an opportunity for innovation, particularly in terms of the minor league basketball industry,” said Greg Kite, Commissioner of the FBA. “Centralizing to one location gives us an economic approach to streaming every game live, allowing us to show more of the public just how talented and entertaining the FBA product really is.”

In addition to season logistics, the FBA is also wrestling with a formidable plan to ensure the safety and health of all participants. Both Commissioner Kite and FBA Chairman and CEO Mark King have been consulting with health officials, doctors and city leaders to establish appropriate safety measures for all participants.

“The well-being of all participants is our biggest focus right now,” said King. “We must be confident and take the proper precautions to keep our players, referees and staff out of harm’s way. Based on what we’ve learned thus far, we feel very confident that we can implement the appropriate measures to provide a safe environment for everyone.”

While the season will start without fans in attendance, the league has not ruled out the possibility of having games in each team’s respective markets towards the end of the season.

“Formulating a proper, credible, high-quality broadcasting plan and capturing commercial advertising revenue has always been a part of our 10 year plan,” said Kite. “We had already invested in the technology and equipment to undertake this goal before the pandemic. Centralizing to one location was not originally part of that plan, but it definitely helps us logistically.”

While a specified location has been selected, an announcement will remain forthcoming until the plan has been all the way finalized. The start date has been tentatively set for late July, with games being held on the weekends.

“We’ve got a great business model for minor league basketball,” said King. “Some people were overly critical with our innovative approach in 2012, asserting our geographic state model was not sustainable. Ironically, that same approach has proven to be quite advantageous right now, making us far more capable to host a season while most other leagues, including the Euroleague, have either remained in hiatus or thrown in the towel for 2020.”

In conjunction with this announcement, FBA officials, including Kite and King, intend to host a Facebook Live session to further elaborate and field questions from the public. For more information, visit or follow the league on social media platforms to stay up to date.

The FBA is a Florida-based professional basketball league providing a development, branding and exposure platform for athletes, referees and other individuals seeking to further their professional basketball career.


FBA News


February 2, 2019

Storm Join The FBA


(Orlando, FL) – The Florida Basketball Association (FBA) will add the Winter Park Storm out of Winter Park, Florida for the upcoming 2019 season.

The Storm will be owned by Ernest Jones, a veteran professional basketball player who finished his playing career with the Florida Flight, also a member of the FBA. The Storm will play their home games at the Winter Park Community Center located in downtown Winter Park.

“We’re excited to have another FBA team in the central Florida region,” said FBA Commissioner Greg Kite. “There’s a lot of talent in central Florida, and there’s a real need for additional opportunities for players to continue playing after college.”

As with all FBA teams, the Storm will use a mix of scouting, recruiting and open tryouts to build their roster. The team will host their first ever tryout on Saturday, March 3rd at their home venue.

“I’m excited to transition from player to owner, said Jones. “It’s been great seeing the FBA grow. I’m looking forward to building on to what’s already been established and bringing a team to the beautiful city of Winter Park.”

The Storm will begin play in April of 2019. For more information, email


Antonio Reyes

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November 2, 2020

Storm Unable to Tame Gunners in Preseason Exhibition

(Winter Park, FL) - Led by players Dominic Douglas and Braylen Pickens, the Winter Park Storm were in action with the Tampa Gunners in a thrilling preseason exhibition game that ended with a final score of 106-113 in favor of the Gunners. The game tipped off Sunday afternoon, November 1st at 1:30pm.

After their season was delayed by CoVid-19, the Storm and head coach Berry Mestel were ready to get back on the court - even with restrictions like maintaining six feet of distance (players on benches included) and no spectators allowed. 

The Storm got off to a great start, battling with the Gunners head to head in the first quarter with 11 contributing points from new player Dominic Douglas. Nate Anthony had a game-changing 3-pointer after a well-executed play by the Storm, giving the team momentum to finish the quarter strong. The Storm ended the first quarter with 24, while the Gunners had a one-possession lead with 27 points. 

Coach Mestel knew the Gunners were good, and said his strategy before the tipoff was to "try a little bit of everything to see what works," which is exactly what they did. Braylen Pickens joined Douglas with the hot hand in the 2nd quarter, both contributing eight points - the halftime score was 48-55 in favor of the Gunners.

The 3rd quarter sparked Christopher Williams, who contributed eight points in the third and nearly ended the game with a double-double (17 points, 9 rebounds).

Despite their efforts, the final horn sounded with the final score of 106-113 in favor of the Gunners.

The top contributors for the Storm were Dominic Douglas (27 points, 5 assists), Braylen Pickens (30 points), Akeem Laurie (12 points, 7 assists), Christopher Williams (17 points, 9 rebounds) and Devin Jackson (5 assists).

"I think all-in-all, we did very well," said Mestel. "We made a lot of adjustments, a lot of changes, and to their [the Gunners] credit they reacted extremely well."

Mestel said they have a lot of things to work on, some of their defensive efforts most of all. "Especially defensive rebounding. We got destroyed defensive rebounding, I bet it was four to one," said Mestel.

Despite defeat, head coach Berry Mestel couldn't have been more proud of his team. "It's an exhibition game, not the season," he said. "It was a good game, and fun." Mestel said he knows what his team needs to work on, and is excited to finally get their season in motion after the delay.

    The Winter Park Storm is a Minor League Basketball Team playing in the Florida Basketball Association (FBA). The Storm is committed to having a strong sense of community and service, while upholding a standard of excellence throughout our organization. For more information on the team, please visit


Dir. of PR/StormTracker Newsletter



February 23, 2019


The first ever Winter Park Storm tryout is next weekend:

Sunday, March 3rd.
Winter Park Community Center ...
721 W New England Ave.
Winter Park, FL 32789

1 30-4:30pm

Register here:
WINTER PARK STORM TRYOUT…/winter-park-storm-tryout


WP Storm


October 7, 2020

Winter Park Storm Foresees Smooth Sailing Heading into Year Two

(Winter Park, FL) - The Winter Park Storm of the Florida Basketball Association (FBA) spent their inaugural 2019 season gaining a foothold in their home city and going through the typical growing pains you might expect from a first-year franchise. But that didn’t stop them from putting first-class products both on and off the court – and winning over the hearts of a large number of fans in the process.

    Storm Coach Barry Mestel believes the winning culture starts at the top and is confident his team is fortunate in that regard. “Our owner, Ernest Jones, sets the tone by creating as much of a professional environment as possible. We have created an exciting brand of entertainment for our fans, and we are very appreciative of them for the support they’ve given us.”

     The Storm is one of eight teams in the FBA, which considers itself a developmental league. “Our goal is to help our guys get opportunities to play and be seen,” said Jones, a former FBA player. “Even if they aren’t able to get to the NBA, there are many opportunities overseas for players who still want to play professionally. This is the type of player we look for; someone who is willing to work hard to do what it takes to further their careers and win games in Winter Park with the Storm.” Jones says his players are fortunate to be coached by someone with Mestel’s resume. “I know firsthand what a fantastic teacher he is. I met him several years back while playing for a team called the Orlando Aces. After that, we crossed paths again when he was training a group of players that included a good friend of mine, Alex Hill. That gave me the opportunity to get to know Coach Mestel even better. So when the opportunity came up with the Storm and I needed a coach, he was the obvious choice. Coach has more than 40 years of experience in the game – many of which were spent at the highest level.”


    Mestel began his coaching career at his alma mater in Connecticut, where he compiled a 137-17 record. He then advanced to the college ranks, coaching under the legendary Fred Barakat at Fairfield University. After stints as a head coach at the JUCO level for both men’s and women’s teams in Connecticut, Mestel moved to Florida. Soon after, he met former Orlando Magic and Dallas Mavericks coach Richie Adubato, then the coach of the WNBA’s New York Liberty – and the two became fast friends. Adubato invited him to the Liberty’s training camp to serve as a shooting coach. He later landed a scouting position with the Orlando Magic, working with then-General Manager John Gabriel and Director of Scouting Gary Brokaw. Mestel and Adubato also co-host a weekly basketball-themed radio show called Full-Court Coverage, Monday evenings at 7pm EST on 96.9 FM in Orlando. The show is currently in its sixth year.

     “We have an acronym we abide by with the Storm: ACE. It stands for Attitude, Commitment and Effort. We play for each other and because of that, it doesn’t matter who does the scoring as long as we put the ball through the hoop,” said Mestel, describing his coaching style. “Ernest and I expect complete buy-in from the players. If they cannot commit to the team 100% they will not play. Also, we make practices more demanding that any game could ever be. No team will outwork us and no team will be in better shape.” Meanwhile, it’s up to Mestel to put his players in the best position to win. “To get positive on-court results from a team, a coach has to look at the players he has and determine what each one does best,” Mestel said. “Then, he exploits those abilities and makes sure what the players do well becomes part of the offensive and defensive game plans.”


    The Storm, who play their games at the Winter Park Community Center, plan to continue being active participants in helping the city’s kids become better players – and better young people – once the COVID period is officially over. “We will be re-starting our Youth Basketball Academy, which helps not only improve their athletic skills, but also their life skills,” Mestel explained. “Once a game is over the scoreboard always goes back to 0-0 … but what you learn from the game of basketball – both on and off the court – these are lessons that add up for a lifetime. Whatever we can do off the court to positively influence young lives is just as important as what we do on the court.”

    The Winter Park Storm is a Minor League Basketball Team playing in the Florida Basketball Association (FBA). The Storm is committed to having a strong sense of community and service, while upholding a standard of excellence throughout our organization. For more information on the team, please visit


Weis Words



February 17, 2019

Barry Mestel named Head Coach of W.P. Storm


(Orlando, FL) – The Winter Park Storm has named Barry Mestel as Head Coach for their upcoming season in the Florida Basketball Association (FBA).

Mestel, who has spent time as an NBA and WNBA scout, brings a wealth of experience to the Storm. Through his Winning Ways Pro International organization, Mestel and his staff have helped hundreds of players advance their careers and secure professional playing opportunities internationally. Through the Storm and the FBA, he sees an opportunity to further build upon those numbers.

“The FBA has proven itself to be a top minor league system that does exactly what it’s supposed to do,” said Mestel. “Basketball has long needed a sustainable, consistent platform that gives players a place to play, the knowledge to improve as professionals, and the resources that teams abroad need to consider signing import players. The FBA builds teams that follow that plan, and I’m excited to build a team of players for the Storm that can believe in that.”

Mestel also co-hosts Full Court Coverage, an Orlando-based radio show featured on 96.9’s The Game, with former NBA head coach Richie Adubato.

“I’ve know Barry for a long time,” said Mark King, CEO of the FBA. “He’ll bring a huge network of resources and value to the FBA. The Storm has landed a fantastic coach to lead this team.”

Recruitment for the Storm has already begun. The team will host it’s first-ever tryout at the Winter Park Community Center on Sunday, March 3rd. For information on tryouts, email


Antonio Reyes

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