Haley Jones #30 of the Stanford Cardinal poses during media day during the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at Henry B. González Convention Center
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From Jeopardy to Nike, Haley Jones is Taking Over Women’s Hoops

Stanford Cardinal women's basketball has been a force to be reckoned with in recent years, and this season they're chasing another National title. Haley Jones, the Stanford Cardinal senior and lead ball-handler only knows NCAA Finals Face-offs. The exception being her freshman year when the 2020 NCAA tournament historically wasn't played due the emergence of Covid-19.

Jones is hoping to cap off her Stanford career with one more championship trophy. The do-it-all guard's leadership and palpable talent helps make it an attainable goal for the Cardinal, who were thwarted by Paige Buecker's UConn Huskies in the 2022 Final Four semifinals. That loss is a taste Stanford would love to erase this season and the rumored top-tier WNBA draft pick will be a key factor in the Cardinal's success.

Haley Jones Resume Screams Future WNBA Powerhouse

Haley Jones #30 of the Stanford Cardinal dribbles the ball on a fast break during the first half against the Oregon State Beavers at Gill Coliseum

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Jones collegiate resume is an impressive checklist of excellence. After leading Archbishop Mitty to a 29-1 record and a No. 1 final ranking in the ESPNW 25 Power Rankings in 2017-18, Jones took her talents to Stanford, turning down offers from UConn, Notre Dame, Oregon and South Carolina (USC).

She led the Cardinal to a tightly won national championship title in 2021 — Stanford women's basketball first title since 1992. ESPN reported that Head Coach Tara Vanderveer finally closed her 29-year gap between titles, the longest in Division I men's or women's history. VanDerveer is now the fourth women's head coach to win three National Championships.

Stanford's victory was cherry topped by Jones being named Final Four Most Outstanding Player during the NCAA tournament. The consistent Cardinal was also an All-Conference player in the Pac-12. Her junior year, Jones averaged 13.2 points per game, paired with 7.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists. She was a first-team All-American, Pac-12 Player of the Year, an All-Conference player and led the Cardinal to back-to-back championship appearances and a third straight Final Four showing.

This season is already shaping up to be monumental for the versatile Stanford guard. You can find her on preseason watchlists for both the Cheryl Miller Award, awarded to the nation's best small forward, and the Naismith Award, bestowed to the country's top overall player. The Santa Cruz native might be focusing on another championship title, but with an impressive resume that just keeps growing — the WNBA is watching.

Projections have Jones dominating the top of the 2023 draft, predicting she could land at the No. 3 spot finding a home with the Atlanta Dream or even picked second, which would catapult her to the Minnesota Lynx. Her best friend and Gamecocks rival, 6-foot-five forward Aliyah Boston, will most likely earn the honor of 2023's No. 1 WNBA draft pick.

USA Teammates and Best Friends

 Francesca Belibi #5 of the Stanford Cardinal and Haley Jones #30 hug Aliyah Boston #4 of the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Final Four semifinal game of the 2021 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament

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The two collegiate powerhouses' friendship has been an inspiration for fans and fellow athletes. The women are constantly supporting and pushing each other — a trend sure to continue once they both become professional ballers. Jones and Boston's friendship was forged in 2018 when the young women both played for the USA Women's Basketball team in the FIBA Under-17 Women's Basketball World Cup in Belarus Italy. USA won the tournament and Jones and Boston won a rare friendship.

During the 2021 NCAA Women's Final Four battle their unwavering support for each other was tested, when Boston's South Carolina Gamecocks faced Jones' Stanford Cardinal. Haley Jones had a massive game, scoring 24 points on only 14 shots, including a make or break jumper with 32 seconds remaining. Jones big bucket ultimately gave Stanford a 66-65 lead the Gamecocks couldn't overcome.

What began as a euphoric moment for Jones, justifiably after her ultimate clutch game winning shot, turned into one of those beautiful sportsmanship moments fans will never forget. The Stanford guard halted her celebration to cross the court and console her crushed friend.

According to Yahoo Sports the star athletes exchanged words of support, "So proud of you," Jones told Boston. "I love you. Keep your head up." Through tears Boston replied: "Go win the natty now."

This display of selfishness is a perfect example of the character the All-American brings to Stanford basketball and consistently gives to her fellow teammates like 2022 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Finalist Cameron Brink. Jones extends the same level of respect to those opposing the skillful guard. After the NCAA tournament win Jones told Yahoo Sports, "We have so much love for each other. And so much respect. ... She had a great game, we matched each other's energy tonight. And so after the game, it was just respect and love for her. You never want to see your friend hurting."

From Jeopardy to Nike, Haley Jones Is Everywhere

Haley Jones #30 of the Stanford Cardinal poses during media day at 2022 NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four at the Minneapolis Convention Center

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Collegiate athletes are familiar with the accolades associated with winning seasons and historic statical achievements, they aren't quite as familiar with being asked to be on the world's most well-known game show. This year the Stanford champion added quite an obscure credit to her blossoming resume when Jeopardy asked her to appear on the show.

In an epic turn of events, Jones found herself thrust into Jeopardy fame as the face of Jeopardy category "Stanford Athletics". How many collegiate athletes can say they've been on Jeopardy?

When the Cardinal trailblazer isn't representing Stanford on Jeopardy, she's breaking ground as one of the newest student-athletes to join the Nike family.  While Adidas has been snatching up student-athlete's like Louisville's Hailey Van Lith, Nike has been tirelessly working at expanding their NIL footprint in the wake of collegiate athletes newfound ability to earn money from endorsements and their latest announcement shows Nike's interest in investing in the future of basketball.

Most recently Nike announced the monumental addition of five basketball players, ranging from high school to college level. According to the Business of College Sports, "the sneaker and apparel brand intends to provide a platform for these athletes to build community and access opportunities beyond the basketball court. Each one of these athletes embodies Nike's mission as a brand to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world."

Jones signed a Nike family NIL deal along with Iowa's triple-double queen Caitlin Clark, Lebron James prodigy aiming for the NBA Bronny James, the No. 1 ranked player in the Class of 2023 DJ Wagner and California's top player Juju Watkins.

"Basketball has given me so much over the years. I'm excited about the opportunity this partnership presents — to give back to my community in more ways than I ever imagined possible," Jones said about the NIL deal. This is a mammoth opportunity for Jones to continue building her reach and impact within the game. But the Stanford Cardinal's inspired guard still has her eye on the prize — another National Title.

Final Season, Final Fight For One More National Title

Haley Jones of Stanford arrives prior a game between UConn and Stanford University at Target Center

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All eyes are on the women of Stanford in anticipation of another dominant season and potentially historic one for senior Haley Jones. No one knows Jones NCAA tournament legacy better than the team behind college basketball's biggest tournaments, which is why the official March Madness YouTube channel did a feature on the well-rounded Stanford guard.

When discussing the goals and expectations Jones has set for herself this year, it's clear the Most Outstanding Player recipient holds herself to a high standard. "When I think of the season and what I want to accomplish on an individual level its Pac-12 player of the year again, it's All-American again, it's going for player of the year nationally," Jones said. "Everything I did last year, I want to do this year."

You'd be foolish to bet against the humble superstar and with a no-other-option-but-winning mentality. It'll be challenging to shake the Cardinal. Haley Jones is ready, amped, locked-in and hungry to help march her team back to the Final Four and another National Title.

"We didn't end the way we wanted to last year. We didn't play our biggest, best basketball on the biggest of stages. It leaves a sour taste in your mouth for sure," Jones explained. "As a team we always say we hate losing more than we love winning,  but I think it leads to a lot of self reflection. It leads to a lot of motivation. We're really coming together as a unit right now, hoping to get back there and end up with a different result."

Haley Jones may talk a lot about last season not ending the way she'd envisioned, but the star Stanford guard intends on using the pain of last season's loss to Paige Bueckers' UConn Huskies as powerful motivation. "In order to get back to another Final Four and another National Championship. This team needs to remember that sour taste that we have from last year and you need to use it and turn that towards motivation moving forward," Jones expressed. "You want to play on the biggest stages. You want to play in the Final Four. You want to play for a National Championship, so being able to go to back-to-back ones, it leaves me hungry for more. I don't, I don't know how to end a season and not go to the Final Four — which is crazy to say, but it seems like the only way to go out on the year."

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