Haley Jones is the No. 1 overall player in the ESPN HoopGurlz 100 for 2019 and recently signed with Stanford. The 6-foot-1 wing, who hails from Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.), is was named to the preseason ALL-USA team and helped Team USA win gold in Belarus last summer. Now Jones has agreed to give USA TODAY exclusive access into her world by chronicling her life in a blog.
Hi everyone, it’s Haley Jones here with a new edition of my blog: Daily Dose of Haley! Last time I checked in I told you all what I’d been up to. In this edition I hope to give you an inside look into the McDonald’s All American Games and other basketball opportunities.
Here’s the breakdown:
The McDonald’s All American Games were surreal.
It was a week full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. We started at the Ronald McDonald House on Sunday where we were able to interact with the families living there and hear their stories. We met families who have had to stay at the Ronald McDonald House for almost a year so they can give their children the best medical care available. It was amazing to meet
these remarkable people and get to spend time with them. Later that day we went to the All-American Fan Fest where we were introduced on stage to a huge crowd there to see big time artist, Lil Baby, perform to promote the game.
Monday night was the Powerade Jam Fest and that was extremely exciting. We were all introduced individually in front of a great crowd and then the games began. The 3-point contest was insane, every shooter was on fire. Of course the girls took the overall title when Sam Brunelle lit up the final.
Then there was the dunk contest. Every contestant pulled out all the stops. Scottie Lewis was jumping over people and Fran Belibi was matching. Throwing Fran the alley-oop off the backboard on her third dunk was surreal – my teammate just did that!
I’ve seen her dunk before but she has upped her game for real!
Being able to witness her dunks and be a part of that historic contest was insane. People talk about Fran’s dunks changing the game and that night you could feel the shift with all the excitement in the gym.
All the players, boys and girls, were just crazy hyped. We were all supporting one another whether it be by dancing, calming down their nerves, or just screaming our heads off the entire time.
Tuesday was practice, followed by media day in the morning. Then, an East vs. West scrimmage in the afternoon and the Player Celebration/Ring Ceremony at night. Media day was a lot of fun. USA Today, ESPN, and the Overtime crew were all there in addition to a lot of other national media. While we were there, the Morgan Wooten/McDonalds Players of the Year were announced.
I was honored to receive the award along with the boy’s recipient, James Wiseman.
That night all of us headed to our ring ceremony held on a rooftop terrace in downtown Atlanta. Receiving our personalized rings in front of our family and new friends was a moment to remember.
We were introduced one-by-one and Chris Webber handed each of us our ring as the representative of former players. At the ceremony you got a great feel for the history of the McDAAG game and all the players that came before us. It is such an honor to just be there and have your name be on the same list as Candace Parker, Tamika Catchings, Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike.
After the ring ceremony I was informed that Fran, Scotty, James and I (the two dunk finalists and the two Wooten award winners) were going to TNT studios to be on Inside the NBA!
We were whisked away from the party and got to meet Candace Parker, Shaq, Baron Davis and the TNT crew – you may have seen us wave to the camera before a commercial break. What an experience to go behind the scenes and meet these legends that I’ve grown up watching. They were all so nice and joked with us just like you see them joking with each other on screen.
Finally, it was game day. Playing in State Farm Arena, against the best competition in the nation, was what the week had been leading up to. Being on that court was a dream, and it made you think even more about all of the legends who have played in that game before us. We were all so excited for the game to finally begin. We all had some nerves, but once we stepped out onto the court we the butterflies disappeared and we just played basketball.
Shout out to my girl, Jordan Horston, who took home MVP honors as the East defeated my West team. We lost the game, but the experience is what it’s about. Yes, we got to do all these big events, but most of the fun we had came off the court. Being able to hang out with one another, create new relationships and see friends that live across the country is what I’ll remember most.
As for the USA Basketball opportunities I mentioned in the last blog, I just finished a training camp with the U18 3×3 national team in Tampa. We practiced amongst ourselves and then had the opportunity to play against some of the best competition the world has to offer. We practiced with the players from the NBA Academy, which was amazing.
After our training camp concluded, we attended the women’s Final Four. Next week we head into the 3×3 National Championship held in Colorado Springs to play against some of the best competition the nation has to offer. The winner will qualify for the World Cup in Mongolia this June. Wish us luck!
Girls Sports Month
I am so proud to be a female athlete. Especially in this modern age, I say that because female sports are growing but still have lots of ground to cover.
Being able to witness a generation set new stages for young female athletes to reach toward is an amazing thing. Women’s sports generally don’t receive the same amount of respect as men’s sports, but being a part of the continuing movement to change those minds is truly wonderful.
I hope that my generation and those to follow continue to make strides toward more opportunities in the world of athletics.
I appreciate you reading my blog again and hope you enjoyed!
Catch up soon on the next Daily Dose of Haley.
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