By Madisen Carter
Stanford women’s basketball player, Haley Jones, has an impressive resume including an NCAA Championship, a Pac-12 Championship and a gold medal with USA Basketball. This past weekend, Jones was able to add another gold medal to her trophy stand, making her a two-time gold medalist at the age of 20.
On Saturday, Jones and USA Basketball defeated Puerto Rico 74-59 in the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup 2021 Championship in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The team finished the tournament 6-0, claiming their back-to-back FIBA AmeriCup gold medal, and now the women are fourth overall at the event with a 30-7 all-time record, according to USA Basketball.
“Being a two-time gold medalist is not something a lot of people can say, so it’s just an honor and blessing,” Jones said. “It means the world to me to make my family proud and where I come from proud.”
In the six games played, Jones averaged 5.5 points, 5 rebounds and 1.7 assists. She finished with a total of 33 points, shooting 35.7% from the field. She also had a total of 30 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocks in the 102 minutes that she played.
Jones said the group of girls on the team were special. She said that they were all the types of players that were willing to put aside their usual roles and take on whatever they needed to reach their main goal: the gold. Jones said that getting to spend time and compete with her teammates made each of them even better in their game.
Jones and her teammates were able to make the most out of their time with each other in Puerto Rico, even when they were on lockdown. She mentioned that there were plenty of memories made during the 25 hour travel time to the island, also during meals, pool time hours and even game nights with Jones’ Nintendo Switch.
“I think our chemistry was really great. We had a great time at training camp. All of our personalities mixed very well, so we hung out a lot,” Jones said. “I became friends with a lot of the girls I never met before, so it was a really fun experience.”
Jones explained that international games are different from collegiate games, and how they are more physical, emotional and intense due to the fact that they were competing against olympians and professionals. She was able to learn and take home more skills that she can use for her upcoming junior season with Stanford.
“I think coming back into this collegiate season, I just have more [of an] understanding [for] the game,” Jones said. “I think I was able to learn from playing against a lot of these experienced players, and coming back with more of a sense of urgency, how to be more efficient and be more physical.”
Last season, Jones had a memorable year with the Cardinals. In 32 games she averaged 13.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists. She helped Stanford win its first Cardinals women NCAA Championship since 1992, as they defeated the University of Arizona in the championship 54-53. She led the team to the victory with 17 points and 8 rebounds in the 32 minutes played. Jones was also awarded the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
“In the moment it was just surreal, being there with that group of girls, being able to do that as a part of Tara’s historic season, and I mean Stanford is such a legendary program that she’s built from the ground up literally,” Jones said. “So to be able to be a team that has brought [a championship] back after a 29 year drought was just crazy”
Jones finished her sophomore season with 422 points, shooting 54.6% from the field with 238 total rebounds, 92 assists, 23 blocks and 25 steals. She said because of her injury that occured her freshman year causing her to miss nearly half of the season, she came back her second year with a different mindset.
“There were a lot of things I wanted to prove to myself that I could do, and also as a team, there were a lot of different goals we wanted to achieve, so I knew I had a different role this past year than my freshman year,” Jones said. “I just kind of took more of a leadership role, being more decisive on the floor, different things like that.
With the 2020-21 season only ending a little less than three months ago, Jones and the rest of the Cardinals already have some goals in mind for their next season.
“I think we have the same expectations [and] the same goals. Last year we went four for four. We won in the Pac-12 regular [season, the] Pac-12 Tournament, the Regional Championship and then the National Championship, so we have the same four goals this year, five actually with an undefeated pre-season,” Jones said. “We’re excited to get back to it.”
Do not count the Cardinals out for next season as they will only be losing one player from their 31-2 Championship team. Jones said that the team started practicing this week and will be there this summer working out for eight weeks to get them ready and prepared for the upcoming season.