It’s almost with a sense of relief we are able to announce this year’s Ms. Basketball for California is Haley Jones from Archbishop Mitty of San Jose. She’s without question one of the best players in Northern California history so if for various reasons — including an official’s controversial call or two — she hadn’t been able to join our all-time list of state players of the year that goes back nearly 50 years, it would have been hard to handle. Go inside to read our tribute to a girl who’s still very busy with basketball even though the high school season ended more than a month ago.
For this season’s State Players of the Year in girls basketball among seniors, sophs, frosh and for each CIF division, CLICK HERE.
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Just like several past winners of the most prestigious individual honor for girls high school basketball in California, including legendary two-time winner Diana Taurasi (Chino Don Lugo 1999-2000), and more recently 2015 winner Katie Lou Samuelson of Mater Dei (Santa Ana) and 2016 winner Sabrina Ionescu of Orinda Miramonte, Haley Jones of Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) didn’t capture a state championship, but what she does do is join those three and many more of the greatest players in women’s basketball history after capturing the 2019 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year award.
Some years the race for Ms. Basketball is a one filly contest, and in others it’s almost too close to call, and although last year’s winner and UCLA-bound Charisma Osborne of Windward (Los Angeles) had an outstanding season, as did the other four finalists, USC-signee Madison Campbell of Clovis West (Fresno), junior Vanessa De Jesus of Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth), USC-committed Angel Jackson of Salesian (Richmond) and Stanford-bound Hannah Jump of Pinewood (Los Altos Hills), the Stanford-bound Jones was in a class of her own this season.
When Jones was told she was joining the three previously mentioned winners, plus legends like three-time winner Ann Meyers, the first honoree who is listed from 1972-1974, two-time winner Cheryl Miller (1981-1982), two-time winner Lisa Leslie (1989-1990) and Candice Wiggins (2004), her reaction was not surprising.
“To see my name recognized next to theirs is surreal,” Jones remarked. “I mean you just named a bunch of legends of the game. To have my name mentioned with them is truly an honor with what they’ve done in their careers.”
Mitty head coach Sue Phillips, herself an award winner in the past and this year as the Gatorade Coaching Excellence Award winner for contributions to the high school coaching profession, knows all too well the value of Jones and why at this point of her career she deserves to be included among the state’s greatest players.
“For sure,” was Phillips response to that very question. “Haley’s history of success and number of accolades definitely qualifies her to be alongside California’s greatest players.”
With her winning the Ms. Basketball for California label, Jones has now pretty much swept most of the major awards that are out there for the taking. So many in fact we could write a book just about them.
– Two-time California Gatorade Player of the Year and 2019 finalist with two others for the national award
– WABC National Player of the Year
– Naismith National Player of the Year
– Morgan Wooten National Player of the Year
– USA Today First Team All-American
– World Champion – Gold Medal winner with USA Basketball U17 team
– One of five players named to the All World Team
– ESPNW No. 1 recruit in the nation in the Class of 2019
– Two-time San Francisco Chronicle Metro Player of the Year
– Two-time Bay Area News Group Player of the Year and the 2017 South Bay/Peninsula BANG Player of the Year
– Three-time Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area Central Coast Section Player of the Year
– Three-time West Catholic Athletic League Player of the Year
Along the way, Jones was the first female athlete to announce her commitment live on national television when ESPN covered the signing of her letter of intent to Stanford. Sports Illustrated did a feature on Haley about her being the ESPN top recruit, and Bay Area television stations KPIX and KRON did features on Jones.
Jones leaves Mitty as the school’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing Olympian and 1995-96 Cal-Hi Sports female State Athlete of the Year Kerri Walsh Jennings, All-American and 1998-99 Cal-Hi Sports female State Athlete of the Year Rometra Craig, and WNBA All-Star Danielle Robinson. Her 2,126 points is 248 points ahead of No. 2 Walsh Jennings. Her .638 career field goal percentage in No. 1 in school history. Haley also went over 1,000 rebounds in her career and her 1,046 is fourth in Mitty history.
This past season, Phillips turned her loose in some games and limited her time in a lot of blowout wins just like she has all four years Jones has been a Monarch, but Haley still averaged 26.1 points, 12.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 3.7 steals and 2.8 blocks per game. She had 23 double-doubles in a 25-3 season and her high water mark for points was 43 against WCAL rival Mountain View St. Francis and her best game on the boards was 22 rebounds versus Christian Brothers of Sacramento.
The CIF Central Coast Section has had some great players, including the two previously mentioned Mitty players Jones passed on the school’s all-time scoring list, but Haley is only the second player from the CCS to be named Ms. Basketball with the other being Renee Robinson from Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton, the 1995 State Player of the Year who led the Gators to three straight CIF state championships.
“I guess that’s’ the one thing left off my resume but I gave it all I had and I have no regrets,” was Jones’ response to the question about not winning a state championship. “It might hurt but I’m not disappointed in my performance.”
True grit and cool as a cucumber
The game didn’t mean a thing, but Jones showed up last Sunday at Las Positas College in Livermore for the NorCal Sports TV All NorCal girls Bay Area versus Sacramento game even though she had a sore throat and had only returned from four days in Tampa, Florida for the USAB 3×3 and didn’t fly back until late Saturday.
Then, we woke her up early Sunday morning to break the news of her award and do an interview. No problem. Jones traveled the 80 miles from her home in Santa Cruz and you guessed it. Haley took charge and totally dominated in a 101-83 Bay Area victory, and despite playing just 22 of 44 minutes in the game she finished with a double-double 27 points and 14 rebounds with four assists and a steal.
“That’s Haley,” was Phillips’ response to the performance.
In her four years at Mitty, Jones rarely had a dour look on her face, never complained about the refs calls or the fact she was getting beaten up by double and triple teams against top-notch competition. She just played and played and played.
“One thing that’s important in our program is we don’t get caught up in drama and adversity on the court, and Haley epitomizes that,” Phillips remarked. “She’s unflappable, incredibly calm. The bottom line is Haley is as cool as a cucumber.”
Why Stanford? Future plans
When we asked Jones why she chose Stanford we already knew the answer. If you have the grades and can pass the rigorous pre-entrance requirements to even get an offer from Stanford, it’s hard to turn down.
“There are a multitude of reasons I chose Stanford. I took all five official visits and got this feeling of this is where I’m supposed to be,” Haley responded.
“The most important reasons are I get to play for a Hall of Fame coach, the academics are second to none, and it’s the total college experience,” continued Jones, who plans on studying sports psychology and after a goal of playing professionally she would like to be a sports psychologist for a professional team or a sports broadcaster.
Community service work
Besides tutoring kids at Holy Cross elementary school and volunteering as a coach for Phillips’ San Jose Cagers third through sixth grade teams, the Honor Roll and model student is perfect for the job of Ambassador at Mitty.
Haley conducts incoming freshmen tours where kids shadow her during the day, and she also does campus tours during open houses for adults as well.
Gatorade gives its winners grant money and the past two years when she has been its California Player of the Year she has donated all the money to the Boys and Girls Clubs, specifically the Santa Cruz chapter.
Jones began playing organized basketball in the third grade but she’s been around basketball before then since her parents, Patrick and Monique Jones, both played basketball in college and were the co-head coaches of the Santa Cruz girls team when she was even younger.
“I was always running around the gym,” Haley said.
Speaking about running. Jones has been contemplating joining the Mitty track and field team, and was considering trying her hand at triple jump, hurdles, 400 and the long jump. She finally decided to do the triple jump. That is the event, by the way, in which Lisa Leslie competed in during high school and she even qualified for the CIF state meet.
Last Sunday may have been the last time Bay Area girls basketball fans had a chance to see Haley perform as a high schooler, but she will compete this weekend in the 2019 USA Basketball 3×3 U18 National Championships at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs where she is the only invitee from California. From there, she and Jackson will travel to Las Vegas on April 20 to play in the Jordan Brand Classic.
After that, the only opportunity to see Jones play will be when the 2019 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year begins her career on The Farm, and most everyone can’t wait.
MS. BASKETBALL STATE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
ALL-TIME HONOREES LIST
(All selections by Cal-Hi Sports)
Note: All-time list before 1980 compiled by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis, based on research.
2019 Haley Jones, San Jose Archbishop Mitty 6-2
2018 Charisma Osborne, Los Angeles Windward 5-9 Jr.
2017 Destiny Littleton, La Jolla Bishop’s 5-9
2016 Sabrina Ionescu, Orinda Miramonte
2015 Katie Lou Samuelson, Santa Ana Mater Dei 6-3
2014 Jordin Canada, Los Angeles Windward, 5-7
2013 Kelsey Plum, La Jolla Country Day, 5-10
2012 Nirra Fields, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 5-8
2011 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Santa Ana Mater Dei 6-0
2010 Chelsea Gray, Stockton St. Mary’s, 5-11
2009 Layshia Clarendon, San Bernardino Cajon 5-9
2008 Jasmine Dixon, Long Beach Poly, 5-11
2007 Jeanette Pohlen, Brea Olinda, 6-1
2006 Jacki Gemelos, Stockton St. Mary’s, 6-0
2005 Courtney Paris, Piedmont, 6-4
2004 Candice Wiggins, La Jolla Country Day, 5-11
2003 Dominique Banks, Stockton St. Mary’s, 5-8
2002 Sa’de Wiley-Gatewood, Lynwood, 5-7 Soph.
2001 Loree Moore, Harbor City Narbonne, 5-8
2000 Diana Taurasi, Chino Don Lugo, 5-11
1999 Diana Taurasi, Chino Don Lugo, 5-11 Jr.
1998 Michelle Greco, La Crescenta Crescenta Valley, 5-10
1997 Erin Buescher, Santa Rosa Rincon Valley Christian, 6-2
1996 Maylana Martin, Perris, 6-3
1995 Renee Robinson, Atherton Sacred Heart Prep, 5-10
1994 Nicole Erickson, Brea Olinda, 5-7
1993 Danielle Viglione, Fair Oaks Del Campo, 5-10
1992 Charisse Sampson, Los Angeles Washington, 5-11
1991 Tanda Rucker, Berkeley, 5-7
1990 Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside, 6-5
1989 Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside, 6-5 Jr.
1988 Trise Jackson, Lynwood, 5-7
1987 Terri Mann, San Diego Point Loma, 6-2
1986 Terri Mann, San Diego Point Loma, 6-2 Jr.
1985 Sharon Turner, Oceanside El Camino, 5-9
1984 Doretha Conwell, Los Angeles Locke, 6-3
1983 Doretha Conwell, Los Angeles Locke, 6-3 Jr.
1982 Cheryl Miller, Riverside Poly, 6-2
1981 Cheryl Miller, Riverside Poly, 6-2 Jr.
1980 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8
1979 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8 Jr.
1978 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8 Soph.
1977 Denise Curry, Davis, 6-1
1976 Denise Curry, Davis, 6-1 Jr.
1975 Anita Ortega, Los Angeles, 5-9
1974 Ann Meyers, La Habra Sonora, 5-9
1973 Ann Meyers, Anaheim Connelly, 5-8 Jr.
1972 Ann Meyers, La Habra Sonora, 5-8 Soph.
Note: List also extends back with assorted years back to 1905 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book and Almanac.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend