Haley Jones is as California as they come. She was born in Santa Cruz, went to high school at Archbishop Mitty in San Jose and played college ball at Stanford. The California kid will now be Atlanta Dreaming, as the organization drafted her sixth overall in this year’s WNBA Draft.
“This is more nervous than I’ve been in any basketball game so far, but It’s just surreal right now. There aren’t really words to describe it,” Jones said immediately after being drafted.
The nervousness was so present that when she went up to the podium, she left her phone and missed a call from her new coach, which led to some Twitter hilarity:
Hey Girl!! Just trying to reach ya to congratulate ya on coming to the A! #PickUpYourPhone @haleyjoness19— Coach Tanisha Wright (@coachtwright_) April 11, 2023
An embarrassed Jones was informed of the missed call thanks to a reporter and her immediate reaction was apologetic and charming.
“Coach, if you are listening, or if you’re going to see this interview, I’m so sorry,” Jones said. “I literally got called, didn’t even think to grab my phone. I hugged my mom and dad and my brother, so when I get to my phone, I’ll call her back immediately.”
The first couple minutes of her WNBA career may have been messy, but her collegiate achievements are as prestigious as can be.
Georgia's on her mind...@haleyjoness19 is headed to the @AtlantaDream as the sixth pick in the #WNBADraft!#GoStanford x #DoItForTheDream pic.twitter.com/p9qZjBPwVe— Stanford Women’s Basketball (@StanfordWBB) April 10, 2023
At Stanford, she won the national title and was a three-time Pac-12 champion and a three-time All-American. In her senior season, she averaged 13.5 points, nine rebounds and four assists per game. It’s no exaggeration to say that the Cardinal went as far as Jones took them, and usually that was deep into the NCAA tournament.
There’s a lot to like about Jones’ game. She’s an incredible ball-handler, facilitator and rebounder. Her size and speed are precisely what every team in the WNBA wants to add to their roster. Her craftiness and ability to contort her body to unlock angles and either finish near the rim or find an open teammate should work well with a player like Rhyne Howard in Atlanta.
Atlanta has been rebuilding for several years now, hasn’t had a winning record since 2018 and has never won a WNBA title. While there has been a marginal improvement over the past three seasons, the hope is that Jones is the piece that will bring the Dream back to the playoffs. Wright spoke the day after the draft about her excitement at picking up Jones.
“Haley Jones was No. 1 on our draft board, so for her to be able to fall to six and for us to grab that is great.”
Jones accomplished all achievements possible in California and will now look to do the same in Georgia but as a professional athlete. With stars like Howard and Allisha Gray already present in Atlanta, this might be the season the Dream finally return to the playoffs and make a run. If that happens, Jones will be a big reason why.