- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Awvee Storey is a familiar presence on the Verizon Center practice court. Years ago, he was guarding his NBA teammates Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler. Today, he’s running drills with Mystics guards Jasmine Thomas and Shannon Bobbitt.

A player personnel manager for the Mystics, Storey has taken an unusual career path for a former NBA player. While many former players wind up as WNBA coaches, including Bill Laimbeer (Detroit Shock), Rick Mahorn (Detroit Shock), Michael Cooper (L.A. Sparks) and Corey Gaines (Phoenix Mercury), Storey is breaking new ground in his multifaceted role.

“I wanted to get my foot in the door, so I just came in last year and helped out in the office, worked out with the team, did whatever was needed,” Storey said.

His work with Monique Currie as she recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament sealed the deal, taking him from volunteer to employee.

“One of my big projects last year was working with Monique after she had her knee surgery,” Storey said. “Once she was cleared to come back, Monique and I stayed in the gym every night.”

Storey spent three seasons in the NBA with the Wizards, New Jersey Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. He also played in the Developmental League with the Dakota Wizards, and overseas with the New Zealand Breakers and the Baranguy Ginebra Kings in the Philippines. After the 2010 season with the Kings, Storey was ready to come home.

Mystics general manager and coach Trudi Lacey believes Storey’s NBA experience gives him the perspective the team needs.

“The time that he’s able to spend working individually with players and help them develop their skills is very helpful,” Lacey said. “He also helps me with a program we have called synergy, which helps me break down tapes.”

Bobbitt works with Storey before practice every day, and believes his help has given her more confidence.

“Awvee played in the NBA, so he knows what it takes for a smaller guard to succeed,” Bobbitt said. “I listen to him and get my individual workouts with him, and then I implement it into practice and game situations. He helps me a lot with pick and rolls and being a more consistent shooter.”

WNBA president Laurel Richie believes that new avenues for men to succeed in the WNBA beyond just the sidelines are growing with every season.

“It’s a great opportunity for any executive interested in the sports industry,” Richie said. “As the league continues to grow and succeed, the opportunities will be there.”

For Storey, pursuing a career with the Mystics was a logical step in adjusting to life after the NBA.

“As players, we’re all so caught up in that lifestyle we never really think about life after basketball,” Storey said. “You’re in different cities every other night, all the traveling, staying in great hotels — just the lifestyle is incredible. It’s easy to get caught up in the NBA life.”

Storey, 35, now lives at a different pace and says he enjoys it, whether he’s working out players, reviewing game tape or sitting at his desk with a pile of spreadsheets.

“People ask me all the time how I could go from the NBA to working in the WNBA, and I tell them ‘These women compete and they play hard,’” Storey said. “I respect what they do.”

• Carla Peay can be reached at cpeay@washingtontimes.com.

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