STANFORD, Calif. (KRON) — National champ and Final Four most outstanding player — that has a nice ring to it.
With accolades like those, it’s safe to say Haley Jones is pretty much a household name now in the college basketball world.
But that journey has been years in the making, and there’s a whole army of people locally who have been along for the ride.
“My friend was telling me, before the tournament you were at 13K and I was like ‘O.K.’ and ‘what am I now’ and I checked and I was like 34,” Jones said. “Why people? What is the big deal!”
Life has changed a bit for Jones.
“I went to Trader Joes yesterday to go restock my fridge of groceries and people were talking to me right after a workout and I looked so bummy and I was like oh this is not the look I need to be having right now,” she said.
It’s a look that began to develop in the youth leagues of Santa Cruz and AAU Tournament littered throughout the Bay Area.
“Me and Haley met when we were at a high school basketball game when we were in like kindergarten,” former teammate Morgan Larkin said. “And there was another side of the court where kids would just go and play during the game.”
“She was my partner for warmups. We were throwing the ball back and forth. And I’m like hi new girl nd I threw the ball to her and the ball hit her face and her nose started bleeding,” former high school teammate Kyahana Robinson said. “And the coach took her away and I was like dang. But she was like everything is fine and from there we just started talking and stuff and I was like we are going to be best friends.”
Eventually, Jones learned how to catch and starred at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose where she became the top ranked high school player in the country.
“From day one, you could really tell that Haley was unique and special,” Archbishop Mitty Head Coach Sue Phillips said. “Not only in her skillset coming in as a freshman, but also her basketball IQ.”
The success was inevitable. But it came quickly.
Haley has taken it in stride.
“When you see her, you wouldn’t even know that she accomplished all of that,” Robinson said. “Because when you meet her she’s just a nice genuine person. And then on the court, she’s a fierce competitor.”
“I’m seeing all these articles and all these things and like, it’s just always the same old Haley,” Larkin said.
The future is certainly bright, and you can bet her community in the Bay will be along for the ride.
“Her teachers have been texting me, requesting her email so they can send her a note of congratulations,” Philipps said. “Not only so proud of all Haley has accomplished but the quality of her character.”
“Having her be on that big stage and just show her talent and how versatile she is,” Larkin said.
“You have someone who comes out of Santa Cruz, put that city on the map,” Robinson said. “And just is doing so many big things in sports. I mean she won a national title. And I’m so happy for her.”