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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Top WNBA Prospect Haley Jones Is Using NIL to Elevate Women’s Hoops

  • Stanford guard Haley Jones has built an impressive NIL portfolio over the past 18 months.
  • Jones is the first college athlete to launch a women’s basketball podcast with The Players’ Tribune.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

When the name, image, and likeness era began, Stanford senior guard Haley Jones was already arguably one of the most marketable female athletes — she was an NCAA champion in the most popular women’s sport at a major-market Power 5 team.

But Jones took her time building an NIL portfolio. 

“I didn’t want to do any quick cash-grab deals,” she told Front Office Sports. “I was looking to treat this like being a professional, while still having the safety net of being in college.” When considering brands, she asked herself: “Does this work with my values? Is it something that I believe in?”

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The 2021 Final Four Most Outstanding Player came into this season with a NIL valuation of $75,000 at minimum — and has inked deals with some of the biggest brands, like Nike and Beats by Dre. But she also has partnerships with companies like natural hair care brand Uncle Funky’s Daughter. 

On Wednesday, she launched her latest venture. She’s the first college athlete to host a podcast produced by The Players’ Tribune. 

“Sometimes I Hoop” will feature guests from the women’s basketball community, from South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston to Flau’jae Johnson, and cover topics ranging from performance to mental health to off-court interests. 

“It’s always been really important to me to speak to my audience and use the platform that I do to kind of spread a different message and be a role model for those who look like me, and be a leader for other black women to look up to,” she said. “Being on this podcast, it provides me another platform to be vocal about how my experience has been different from others.”

It’s a win-win for The Players’ Tribune, which reached out to Jones asking if she wanted to host a podcast. 

“We at The Players’ Tribune understand the importance of having more women with a strong presence in this space,” Ashly Robinson, Head of Original Content and Development, said in a statement to FOS.

The top-three WNBA draft prospect has high hopes for the future of NIL — both for herself and for the next generation of athletes. 

Like some other basketball players, including Gonzaga’s Drew Timme, Jones is hoping a podcast can help springboard her post-playing career. She’s considering dipping her toe into broadcasting after basketball, and felt a podcast would help complement her Communications major and a previous internship she did with women’s sports media company Togethxr. 

Jones hopes NIL can help athletes learn another valuable future skill: financial literacy. She wants schools to provide more classes, reading material, and overall education around “really understanding how to use your money — make it work for you.”

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