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Hannah Jump, Stanford’s X-factor, always finds a way

Hannah Jump is averaging career-highs in minutes, points and 3-point attempts per game this season. (John Todd/ISI Photos/Getty Images).

There was something about Hannah Jump.

When Rometra Craig first saw Jump play, she knew she had to train her. And that never happens.

Craig, a former Duke basketball player, makes it a point not to approach players for her training company, Elite Basketball Performance. If they want to train, they’ll come to her. But with Jump, she put all that aside.

“It’s hard to explain,” she said. “It was just a feeling. I knew she had all the tools to be a great player, and I was like, ‘Man, it would be cool to go through the process with her.’”

Jump was in fifth grade when her skills caught Craig’s eye. The timing couldn’t have been better.

Jump and her family had moved to the United States from England a few years prior, and she was just starting to get serious about basketball.

In England, Jump played tennis. Basketball wasn’t really accessible, and she had no interest in its British cousin, netball.

But when her dad’s job took the family to California, Jump had the chance to explore all kinds of new activities. She played softball first, and was a talented catcher. So good, in fact, that when softball and basketball started to conflict, her parents asked her to choose between the two. When she picked basketball, they weren’t so sure.

“My husband did think she was better at softball than she was at basketball,” said her mom, Ann Marie Jump. “But when we made her choose, she chose the one she loved most.”

And when Hannah makes a decision, she never looks back. Ann Marie remembers taking the family out to dinner when Hannah was just a little girl. She would look at the menu for a moment, instantly decide what she wanted and never waver. And when the food arrived, she would always be thrilled with her decision.

“She’s always known exactly what she wants,” Ann Marie said.

There’s another thing you need to know about Hannah Jump. When she wants something, she finds a way to get it.

In fifth grade, she wrote a poem for a school project. Titled “Hannah Jump,” it detailed things she liked and what she wanted. Some lines were the sweet musings of a 10-year-old: “Lover of her grandma’s rice pudding.” “Feels excited about starting Middle School.”

But the last line stands out from the rest.

“Who dreams of getting a scholarship to play basketball at Stanford.”

When the Jump family moved to the United States, it was just supposed to be for a few years. Hannah remembers thinking of it as a long vacation.

“It’s kind of funny because when I decided to come with my husband, I was under the impression it was going to be a couple years,” Ann Marie said. “But my husband was under the impression that we would end up staying.”

And unlike his ideas about Hannah’s future as a softball player, this time, he was right.

Eventually, they realized they didn’t want to leave. So Ann Marie, Danny and their three kids — Hannah, Samuel and Matthew — settled into their lives in San Jose.

A thirty-five-minute drive on the Central Expressway leads from the Jump family home to Stanford. Hannah spent countless evenings and weekend days as a child watching the Cardinal women’s basketball team.

“I grew up watching the Samuelson sisters (Karlie and Bonnie) play,” she said. “And watching Karlie be the 3-point shooter that she was, I could see that for myself. When they were hitting 3s and the whole gym would erupt I was like, ‘I want to feel this.’”

So the Stanford dream was born.

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Jump leads Stanford with 81 3-pointers made this season. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

But there’s a big difference between a dream and a goal: A dream is something anyone can have; a goal becomes more realistic.

That’s where Craig came in.

When the two started training together, Craig noticed a pattern. Jump would come to a session, and the skills and drills Craig had her working on wouldn’t come easily. Jump didn’t struggle exactly, but there were certainly improvements she needed to make.

By the next session, there weren’t.

Every time she worked out with Craig, Jump would come home and repeat the workouts in her driveway until they were perfect.

“She has always been very determined, very hard working,” Ann Marie said. “Especially if it’s something she really wants for herself, then she’s very focused on achieving it.”

Two years after they started training together, Craig knew Stanford was a real possibility for Jump. She had the physical attributes necessary, and an innate understanding of the game and how to work in different systems. At Stanford, Craig said, having a high basketball IQ is vital.

“So as her trainer, I said, ‘Let’s set goals and reach them. Let’s see what we can do to get there,’” Craig said. “There was never a time when I doubted anything she wanted.”

Jump was a five-star recruit heading into college, and Craig was right. Her skill set fit in perfectly at Stanford.

During her freshman season, Jump played limited minutes, averaging 4.6 points in about 10 minutes per game. As a sophomore during Stanford’s national championship run, she saw her minutes increase to 15.9, and her points to 6.7.

It’s been a steady climb for the junior in terms of production, and this year she’s playing 25 minutes a game and averaging just under 10 points.

But even as a freshman, when her role was small, Jump could always be counted on to hit from long range. Her reputation as a 3-point shooter was well-established in high school, with one scout saying on her ESPN recruiting profile, “She brings a dangerous deep threat arsenal with consistent results,” and she “scores beyond the arc in bunches.”

Like most things with Jump, her shooting ability started as a natural skill and developed thanks to her work ethic. Shooting, she says, was something she could always practice, even when she had no one to go to the gym with.

“I just always loved playing basketball,” she said. “And practicing shooting is something you can easily do. So being always in the gym allowed me to be a good 3-point shooter.”

This season, after South Florida upset Stanford in the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo championship game in November, Jump was inserted into the starting lineup for the next game against Maryland. The Cardinal dominated the then-No. 2 Terrapins, 86-68, and Jump scored 21 points on 7-of-14 3-pointers.

“That’s when I really started to feel like I was playing like myself,” Jump said. “I know that the coaches have always had confidence in my shot, but that is when I started to play more relaxed and confident.”

Jump started Stanford’s next 10 games, and even though she’s since gone back to coming off the bench, the junior is relied on to carry a bigger load than in years past.

The Bahamas tournament showed the basketball world what a threat Jump is to opponents, but for Craig, it was simply Hannah being Hannah.

“For me, it’s not surprising,” she said. “You have a kid that loves the game the way she does, and works as hard as she does. Anything is possible.”

Atop the list of possibilities Jump wants to make a reality is another NCAA Tournament championship, as No. 1 seed Stanford prepares to face No. 4 Maryland in the Sweet 16 on Friday night. Last year, the Cardinal defeated Arizona by a point in the title game, winning Stanford’s first championship since 1992.

After being part of the team that broke a nearly 30-year title drought for the program, Jump went right back to work.

Craig was hosting a training session on an outdoor court, and there was Jump — ready to learn, ready to improve her game.

For the young kids working out with Craig, seeing Jump at their session was concrete proof that their dreams can become goals, and eventually, reality.

“She is an incredible role model,” Craig said. “It’s so inspiring for them because she’s so humble. They feel like these things can be attainable for them as well, because they saw Hannah go through the process.”

When she’s not practicing with her Stanford teammates or training with Craig, you’ll find Jump at a local coffee shop, probably sipping on an iced almond milk latte — flavored with either vanilla or caramel, depending on her mood — and studying for her developmental psychology track. Or she might be working at an on-campus preschool, Bing Nursery School.

Jump loves working with kids. It’s in her blood. Ann Marie is a teacher and so is Jump’s grandfather.

“Hannah has always been a natural teacher,” Ann Marie said. “But I don’t see her necessarily teaching in a school. I see her coaching basketball.”

That seems like a probable career path, but before she starts passing down her skills to the next generation, Craig thinks Jump can have a career in the WNBA or overseas.

In fifth grade, Jump wrote about that in her poem.

“Hannah Jump, who wonders if she will ever make it to the WNBA.”

“Who would like to become a professional basketball player.”

One line of that poem already came true.

And if Hannah Jump wants something, she finds a way to make it happen.

Eden Laase is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. She previously ran her own high school sports website in Michigan after covering college hockey and interning at Sports Illustrated. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

Esme Morgan Signs With Washington Spirit

Esme Morgan of England inspects the pitch prior to the UEFA Women's EURO 2025 qualifying match between England and France
The England national will join the Spirit in DC on July 15th. (Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

English defender Esme Morgan has signed with the Washington Spirit, the club announced Thursday. 

Morgan had been with WSL side Manchester City since 2017, with one year remaining on her contract. She’ll now make a move to the NWSL, with City receiving a fee for the move. 

"I wanted to join the Spirit because they have the ambition and tools to be the best team in the NWSL, and trying to achieve that will be a great but enjoyable challenge," Morgan said in a club statement.

"On an individual level too, the opportunity to work under Jonatan [Giráldez], one of the world's best coaches, is really exciting and I look forward to learning from him and pushing myself to become the best player I can be, hopefully helping the team to success."

According to ESPN, Morgan’s lack of playing time under City manager Gareth Taylor played a key role in her decision to leave the league championship runners-up. She’ll join the Spirit in Washington, DC on July 15th, but won’t be able to begin play until August. 

Spirit president Mark Krikorian called Morgan an "exceptional talent" and added that the club is "thrilled" to add her to the roster.

"I think she’s pretty talented," Giraldez told reporters on Friday. "A young player with a great future, but with experience already in a great league and with the national team. She’s been surrounded by great players and also great coaches, so she can give us experience."

Ledecky Goes for 4 at Olympic Swimming Trials

Swimmer katie ledecky swimming at Toyota US Open
Decorated swimmer Katie Ledecky is aiming to make her fourth-straight Olympic squad. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Swimming Trials begin this weekend, running from June 15th through June 23rd in Indianapolis, with Katie Ledecky eyeing her fourth-straight Summer Games.

While traditionally held in Omaha, Indiana's Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, has been fitted with a 50-meter pool to host the meet that will determine the 2024 Paris Olympics roster.

All eyes will be on seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, who will be competing in the 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1500-meter freestyle — all events in which she’s been an Olympic champion. 

Rival Ariarne Titmus had her trials last week, breaking the world record in the 200-meter freestyle. Ledecky’s 200 is intended to qualify her for the Olympic relay. Meanwhile stateside, Katie Grimes stands to be a challenger in the 1500-meter freestyle has already qualified for the Paris Olympics in the 10km open water event.

Other competitors of note include 47-year-old Gabrielle Rose, who stands to become the oldest US Swimming Olympic qualifier in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke.

Additionally, Kate Douglass — an NCAA and World Champion — is a favorite to make her first Olympic team in the 200-meter IM and 200-meter breaststroke. Simone Manuel, an Olympic champion in the 100-meter freestyle, is also looking to make her third-straight Olympics.

Where to watch: The Trials will be streaming all week on Peacock, with later qualifying heats airing live on USA Network and event finals airing in primetime on NBC.

Orlando and Kansas City Shoot for 13 in NWSL Weekend Action

NWSL's T. Chawinga #6 of the Kansas City Current passes the ball during the first half of their game against the Utah Royals FC
The Kansas City Current hopes to extend its NWSL unbeaten streak to 13 with a win over Chicago. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

The 13th match weekend is fast approaching in the NWSL, with two season-long unbeaten streaks on the line.

League-leaders Kansas City and Orlando will attempt to survive the weekend with their unbeaten runs intact, as the Current host Chicago on Friday and the Pride travel to North Carolina for Saturday's match.

But while Kansas City and Orlando have been the gold standard this year, they're still a number of wins away from tying Washington's record for longest unbeaten streak in a single NWSL season. In 2021, the Spirit went 20 games without a loss en route to the club's first NWSL championship.

Both Gotham and Louisville are carrying momentum into their matchup on Saturday. Louisville is unbeaten in three games, and they’re looking to finally leapfrog Chicago and claim sixth place in the league standings. Gotham, on a seven-game unbeaten run, is into fifth place.

Portland and Seattle will face off in the Cascadia Clash this weekend, with Golden Boot contender Sophia Smith absent, as the decorated forward was shown a red card last weekend for time-wasting on the bench.

The Reign could use a win against their long-time rivals, as a difficult start has 13th-place Seattle registering only two wins amid nine losses so far this season.

Elsewhere in the league, 2024 expansion teams Bay FC and Utah meet for the first time this weekend, as both look to rise from the bottom half of the standings. And Washington will ride a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game against a San Diego side that's earned two hard-fought draws in recent weeks.

Watch more: "Sophia Smith is INNOCENT!" on The Late Sub with Claire Watkins

WNBA All-Star Voting Starts on June 13th

Phoenix Mercury mascot Scorch waving a 2024 WNBA All-Star flag at a 2023 home game.
Phoenix Mercury will host the 20th-annual All-Star Game on July 20th, 2024. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Voting for the 2024 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game opened at 2 PM ET today and runs through June 29th.

All active WNBA players are eligible to make the All-Star Game, set for July 20th in Phoenix. Unlike previous formats that featured two voted-in All-Star squads, this year’s contest pits a single All-Star team against the already-decided Olympic-bound USA Women’s National Team.

Fans can submit a daily ballot nominating up to 10 athletes via WNBA.com or the WNBA App.

Fan-submitted ballots account for 50% of vote, with the other 50% split equally between current WNBA players and members of the media. The top 10 athletes will automatically make the All-Star Game, with league coaches then voting from a pool of the next 36 to complete Team WNBA’s 12-player roster. The final lineup will be announced on July 2nd.

This year's All-Star Game format presents an opportunity for fans to vote for players they might consider Olympic snubs. Indiana rookie Caitlin Clark and Dallas’s Arike Ogunbawole seem like shoo-ins given the discussion surrounding their Olympic omissions, while Connecticut stars Brionna Jones and DeWanna Bonner are also expected to snag All-Star nods.

And after a career-high 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in last night’s 83-75 loss to the Sun, Chicago rookie Angel Reese could also secure a spot.

Regardless, it won't necessarily be smooth sailing for Team USA, as history has tended to favor the underdog. 

The first USA vs. All-Stars matchup took place in 2021, with the league’s squad humbling the Tokyo Olympians 93-85. With 26 points, Ogunbawole was named All-Star Game MVP after barely missing the Olympic cut. Could she and Clark turn the tables on Team USA this year?

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" by Expert Adjacent

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