July 26, 2023
1-on-1: Haley Jones talks rookie season experience and music interest
'Winning to me means more than any individual stat or any individual accolade'
ATLANTA – Atlanta Dream rookie guard Haley Jones has always been atop the scouting report in her basketball career, from being the No. 1 ranked recruit in the country out of high school, according to ESPN Hoop Gurlz, to her four-year collegiate career on a perennial championship contender at Stanford. But in her rookie season, Jones is fitting in wherever the team needs her with no questions asked.
Across 23 games, the No. 6 overall pick averages 4.3 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.7 rebounds on 32.7% shooting from the field in 17.7 minutes per game. Additionally, Jones’ 24.1% assist rate is No. 3 among rookies and No. 18 among all players this season.
On July 25, we sat down with Jones for the second installment of our new Q&A series, spotlighting the league’s young, up-and-coming stars.
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Q: First, you’ve had to adapt to various contexts in your rookie season, from handling starting point guard duties to logging less than five minutes some other nights. You’ve probably never had to experience that in your basketball career before, so what’s that been like for you, and what have you learned in the process?
Jones: Yeah, I’ve never been in this situation specifically, but I think I’ve always been the type of person where I’m going to do whatever my team needs me to do because winning to me means more than any individual stat or any individual accolade. So yeah, it’s definitely an adjustment, like okay, [Danielle Robinson] and Aari [McDonald] go down, so it’s like alright, we need you, girl, but it’s still having that understanding that I still have a role to bring on this team no matter how many minutes I play. But yeah, I’m the biggest hype woman on the bench and I’m out there with energy no matter what or the type of night it is.
Q: What’s your film-watching process like? Are you big on watching Synergy and stuff like that?
Jones: I just watch it on Hudl, I’ll rewatch the game, then [Vickie Johnson], and I usually watch individual clips that she’ll do for me. Also, [Tanisha Wright] has talked to me a lot about how the league is learning people’s tendencies, right – we played Connecticut four times [and] we play New York four times, so you can’t be surprised when they hit you with their favorite move; that’s really started to help me defensively.
Q: And what’s your favorite moment from your rookie season so far?
Jones: Great question, I think the first game is so exciting, and it was a sellout, too, also, when we played Connecticut in overtime, even though I fouled out, it was a really fun game. For me, that was a game that really helped me come into my own because I think I turned it over three times in a row or something, got subbed out, held it together, and had my teammates behind me, so it really helped me settle in.
Q: I have to ask, so before the season, you mentioned curating playlists for your teammates and coaches. How’s that come along?
Jones: Oh my gosh, I haven’t curated any for them yet, but I do have a rookie season playlist curated right now that I add to every now and then, so I think I’m going to release it at the end of the season –we’re currently at two hours and 46 minutes.
Q: Speaking of music, what’s one song that has been on repeat for you this summer?
Jones: My song of the season so far is “Young Hearts Run Free” by Candi Staton.
Q: You’re stuck on a deserted island with one teammate, who are you picking?
Jones: I feel like Mo [Billings] because I feel like she’d keep me very zen; we’ll do yoga and figure out everything together.
Q: What’s your favorite sport outside of basketball?
Jones: Soccer, I’m having a lot of fun with the Women’s World Cup right now, and there’s like six girls from Stanford and I know, Sophia [Smith] and Naomi [Girma], so it’s really exciting to watch them.
Q: Lastly, what is one word to describe your game on the court?