Written by Madisen Carter
On Monday, April 10th, 36 women's basketball players' dreams came true as they were selected in the 2023 WNBA Draft. From countless hours in the gym, to waking up early for workouts, from all the traveling, these ladies put in a tremendous amount of time into their game to make it to the next level, and they made it. One of these individuals was National Champion, Haley Jones.
Jones was drafted sixth overall in the draft by the Atlanta Dream. This makes Jones the 14th Cardinal to be selected in the first round of a WNBA Draft. Jones leaves Stanford averaging 13.5 points, 3.4 assists, and 7.5 rebounds per game with a total of 1,525 points, 396 assists, and 889 rebounds in her entire Cardinal career.
The 2023 WNBA Draft was hosted at Spring Studios in New York City. Jones said that atmosphere felt surreal as she saw her name on the table, all of the other college coaches, all of the draftees dressed up, and the WNBA Commissioner, Cathy Engelbert in one room.
“When my name was being announced as the sixth pick, it was just like, ‘Oh my God, that's me,’” Jones said. “I was trying to read [the Commissioner's] lips as she was going to announce what name it was. So as I saw the H being formed coming out, I was like, ‘Oh my God, it's gonna be me.’ It was just so exciting getting to stand up and hug the people closest to me.”
After she was drafted, Jones headed into a press conference to talk about her success and her future in Atlanta. During that press conference, Jones was informed by the media that she had missed her new coach, Tanisha Wright’s, phone call to Jones to congratulate her on the draft. Wright tweeted: “Hey Girl!! Just trying to reach ya to congratulate ya on coming to the A! #PickUpYourPhone @haleyjoness19.” Jones explained that she left her phone at the table and would call Wright back as soon as she had her phone back in possession.
“[Coach Wright] has been great, the entire front office and just the organization they have in Atlanta is amazing. So I'm really excited to be a part of this new Dream era with the new ownership group, coaching staff, and front office that they've kind of put together in the past few years,” Jones said. “They seem like amazing people, very genuine. So I'm just excited to get there and really start creating more of a relationship and working with them.”
For the past two weeks, Jones was back in her hometown of Santa Barbara working with Coach Packie Turner. Throughout their two weeks, they had a total of eight workouts consisting of on-court workouts and lifting weights and conditioning. During on-court workouts, they worked on outside shooting and getting Jones into the rhythm.
Jones is headed out to Atlanta next week as training camp starts on the 30th of this month. She said she is looking forward to making an immediate impact on the league with what makes her unique, and she is looking forward to soaking up knowledge from her teammates.
From being a McDonald’s All-American in high school, to committing to Stanford and becoming a National Champion, a three-time Pac-12 Champion, Pac-12 Player of the Year, to being a two-time Gold Medalist, Jones made it all the way to the WNBA by the age of 21. Jones has dedicated so much time and work into her game to get her to where she is at now in her career. At UPB, we have enjoyed seeing her develop and become the player she is today, we are so excited to see her continue her career in Atlanta!
“One thing I would say to the next generation is just be you. Do what makes you you and rely on that. Don't get caught up in what the media is gonna say about you or whatever, stay confident in what makes you special because everybody has that,” Jones said.
Smith has been with UPB for a few weeks now and is helping with group training and private training. He said he has enjoyed seeing the variety of different athletes that come into the gym from division I college basketball players all the way down to three year olds. He said group training has been his favorite part so far, being able to interact with a lot of different athletes and helping them improve throughout the sessions.