By Madisen Carter
Haley Jones is more than ready mentally and physically as she enters her senior season with the Stanford Women’s Basketball Team. Over the years, Jones has achieved so much within her collegiate basketball career including an NCAA Championship, two Pac-12 Championships, Pac-12 Player of the Year, Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player, and more. As she enters her final season at Stanford, she is looking forward to making more history with the program and making it back to the NCAA Championship.
To prepare for the 2022-23 season, Jones has been working with Unlimited Potential Basketball’s Coach Packie Turner on ball handling, outside shooting, and having overall confidence on the court. She also wants to be able to be as present as possible in her last year. Although the WNBA Draft is in the Spring, she wants to focus and appreciate her time at the school and with her teammates.
“I want to enjoy my time here because one thing that [Tara] always said is ‘You're never going to be in this space with these people ever again.’ So being present and just enjoying everyday [is what I want to do,]” Jones said.
In this upcoming season, individually, Jones wants to win the Pac-12 Player of the Year again, as well as the Pac-12 and Regional Most Outstanding Player again. Jones achieved those three titles last season when the team went 32-4. Jones finished her junior year with a total of 434 points, 261 rebounds, 121 assists, and 36 blocks.
As a team, Jones has the same five goals that she has always had throughout her time at Stanford for this upcoming season. She wants the team to go undefeated in non-conference, win the Pac-12, win the Pac-12 Title, the Regional Title, and then of course, win the NCAA Tournament Championship. Outside of those goals, she also wants the team to continue to grow with every game on the schedule, stay consistent and gain confidence.
Stanford’s team this year is a young team as 9 out of the 15 players on the roster are underclassmen. Jones said the culture of the team has been great and the freshmen are coachable and ready to get started. Now as a senior on the team, Jones’ role as a leader has shifted since her first year on the team. She said her first couple years on the team she was leading by example, but now she is a main focal vocal point for the team.
“I'm communicating whatever. I'm not saying what other people are doing, I'm letting [them] know what I'm doing so [they] know where I am or I [am just] encouraging,” Jones said. “How I try to lead is I try to create relationships with all my teammates, [so I have] learned how to get the most out of them.”
With the season starting in November, Jones looks forward to hopefully an undefeated season and a way back to the NCAA Tournament. During her sophomore season, the team was able to take home an NCAA Championship Title, while last year they ended their season in a Final Four game. Jones said for the team to make it back to the Championship this year and secure the win, they need to keep their confidence high.
“I think that last year, we left on a loss but it also was a loss where we knew that we didn't even play our best [and] it was [maybe] our worst game of the season,” Jones said. “So knowing that we [are] returning our core… and the core [has gotten] even closer in the spring and then our freshmen just kind of came into the team seamlessly, it's a big boost of confidence going into this year. We know that it's going to take everything and more because every year our target on our back just grows larger and larger… There's a huge target, and I think that keeps us on our toes and keeps us wanting to push to continue to widen the gap between us and our competition.”
The first game of the season is on November 2nd when the Cardinal hosts the Vanguard Lions. Jones is looking forward to a seamless senior year from all of her hard work and training, as well coming off of an injury her freshman year and having her sophomore season during the pandemic. Ultimately, before she finishes her time at Stanford, she hopes to leave her mark on the basketball program.
“I hope that in my last year here, I'm able to kind of leave a legacy almost. So like back to back to back Final Fours, hopefully two for three on Nattys, that is [what] I want in my senior year,” Jones said. “I want to have me personally and my class, the Funky Four, kind of cement our names in the Stanford legacy, that we came in [and] we changed the ways. They hadn't won a Natty in 30 years, we went to three Final Fours, we went undefeated in the Pac, like that's unheard of. That's what I kind of want to leave after my senior year.”