Stanford’s star point guard is the reigning Final Four MOP, and she’s proven just as impactful early on in the NIL era.
If you’ve ever seen Haley Jones play basketball, there’s a good chance you remember it vividly.
The Stanford guard’s steady play — she commands the offense for the defending national champions — is surpassed only by the energy she brings to the game. She’s just one of those players; when you watch her, you can tell she’s having the time of her life.
So with the NIL era about eight months old, it should be no surprise that Jones is bringing that same energy to her endeavors off the court. She said that after the NCAA’s NIL era began last July, she took some time to figure out what direction she wanted to take before getting started.
But now that she’s a little more sure of herself, she’s all-in.
“I definitely took it a bit slower and realized that this could be a way for me to form my brand two years before that’s what my livelihood depends on and that’s where all the paychecks come from,” she told Boardroom. “Once I took it with that outlook, I suppose I was able to kind of realize this is a time to start building business connections, what I want my brand to be, how I want to interact with people what I want to portray to my audience.”
NIL Deals and Endorsements
- Coin Cloud
- Uncle Funky’s Daughter
- Beats by Dre
Thankfully for Jones, she has no shortage of business avenues available to her. She’s a communications major who is interested in broadcasting. She’s held an internship for an investment firm. She’s interested in the growing crypto economy. She wants to use her platform to advocate for causes important to her.
But as she said, she’s being selective. The last thing she wants to do is make an impulsive decision now that could have repercussions down the road.
“You don’t just wanna do quick deals with brands where down the line that might hurt you, associating with a certain brand originally, and now all the sudden you can’t work with a bigger brand down the line,” she said.
Those are all considerations that she needs to keep in mind. But first, she’s chasing a second national championship. Stanford enters the 2022 NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed for the second straight year and will have to navigate a region with Texas, LSU, and Maryland to reach the Final Four.
Jones was the Most Outstanding Player at last year’s Final Four, and with Stanford on the short list of teams that could win it all, a repeat trophy isn’t out of the question for her.
Haley on the Hardwood
- 2019 McDonald’s and Jordan Brand All-American
- 2021 NCAA National Champion
- 2021 Final Four Most Outstanding Player
- 2022 AP All-American
- 2022 Pac-12 Player of the Year
- 2-Time USA Basketball Gold Medalist
As such a decorated athlete, Jones recognizes the platform she has, and it makes it all the more important to speak up when it matters most. She cites the controversy around last year’s women’s NCAA Tournament and watching how her coach, Tara VanDerveer carries herself.
“I feel like part of the reason why this Stanford program has done so well, year in and year out, is because [VanDerveer] cares for you as a person,” Jones said. “It’s her advocating for us when the tournament is coming up with all these discrepancies, if it’s her advocating for Title IX things, equity between us and our counterparts, whatever it may be.”
Like many other woman athletes, advocacy is another important part of Jones’ mounting responsibilities. It would be easy for Jones to shrink back and let the weight of the moment overwhelm her.
She credits her mother with helping her prioritize early on.
“My mom was very quick to tell me you can’t have basketball without school — you have to keep your grades up,” she said. “Now you throw in this extra layer where you’re not gonna get these big-time opportunities if you’re not hooping…not playing up to your potentially, really, so you gotta have all three in check. So the priority is academics, then basketball, then NIL opportunities. It’s definitely tough I don’t think I’ve got it down yet but we’re figuring it out.”
For Jones, each of those three parts feeds into the next. As a communications major interested in sports broadcasting, she is taking journalism and public speaking courses. She looks at current players like Chiney Ogwumike and Candace Parker, who can balance broadcasting part of the year and playing during the season as examples.
“They’re hooping and they’re winning championships,” Jones said.
Jones might be a couple weeks from doing just that.