Haley Jones could’ve played college basketball anywhere in the country. UConn, Oregon, Notre Dame, South Carolina, or Stanford. The 2019 no. 1 recruit had as much buzz as anyone on the recruiting trail, and at the end of the day, she navigated it all to stay local and play at Stanford. In her first year at Stanford, Jones was named PAC-12 freshman of the week three times, and averaged 11.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game before enduring a season-ending knee injury. Heading into her sophomore year, she has been named to the Miller Award watch list, given to the top small forward in the game.
But, the stats and the big names only tell half the story. Of course Jones is a dynamo on the court, but she’s also grounded and resilient off of it. This offseason, she went to rehab for her knee injury four times a week, worked on her shot and ball handling with Packie, and adjusted to the pace of college play. Most of all, she stayed calm and collected, which is nothing new considering how admirably Jones approached the recruiting process.
Even though she took all the time she needed, waiting to commit to Stanford until the last day on ESPN, Jones never let the pressure of being the number one ranking get in the way of her happiness, and love of the game. And to this day, she doesn’t let the numbers consume her. Here’s what she said about being the no. 1 recruit in the Class of 2019:
“That was never something I would use as a flex on other people. For me it gave me motivation because I was the target... I saw it as I want to continue to widen the gap and I try not to put too much pressure on myself. All this does is give me more motivation because I don’t want anyone to catch up. I don’t do it for the rankings; I do it because I love it.”
For Jones, Stanford is more than about winning a championship, though that of course would be nice. She’s there to soak in the full college experience, become the best teammate and player possible, and grow academically. She absolutely loves the institution and most of all, she loves her team. Even though the recruiting process was no cake walk, she makes advice to future recruits clear, “You have to take into account the whole college experience. You have to really love the team because you spend so much time with the team.”
Jones knows that Palo Alto is the right landing spot for her, has propelled her athletically and academically, and also as always, kept her grounded.
There’s one particular exercise Clair Steele will never forget from UPB. And that’s Packie’s famous five-minute plank that would be thrown in at the end of workouts. Clair Steele used to dread those planks.