MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s been a long time since the Minnesota Gopher men’s basketball team has had an incoming freshman arrive with so much fame.
As Minnesota gets set to tip off its season, there is a lot of hype surrounding Isaiah Washington.
“Nobody just want to see a regular layup, it’s kind of boring,” Washington said. “Everybody want to see dunks. So we just add our own little spice to it, it’ll look better than a dunk.”
“The Jelly” is Washington’s signature move.
“When I was in eighth grade, like, nobody could really dunk, so we would call a finger roll a ‘jelly,'” Washington said.
Fast forward a few years?
“And now everybody know about this,” Washington said.
The Jelly, and its creator, are a social media sensation.
“Just posting the videos, people really liking the Jelly, and just keeping the movement going,” Washington said.
His Instagram account has 399,000 followers — an astonishing number for someone who was a high school basketball player until just a few months ago.
He even caught the eye of the game’s biggest stars, like Kyrie Irving.
“I still wake up dreaming, like this can’t be real,” Washington said. “It’s overwhelming sometimes, but you know, I just stay level-headed. The better I play the more people will show love, so that’s what I’m working towards.”
Now that the New York native is on campus, he’s ready to show why he’s known for far more than just his online presence. He’s heralded as one of the top newcomers in the Big Ten.
“He’s got the talent to do it, but sometimes with young guys the more minutes they play, their habits can get you a little bit,” said Gophers Head Coach Richard Pitino. “So it’s just a matter of, we’ve got five starters who know how to play in Big Ten games, so once he learns how to do those things, he’s got the talent to do it which is really good.”
“In college everything is game reps. Like every shot you’ve got to jump high, you’ve got to elevate, you’ve got to really finish hard at the rim,” Washington said.
And do the Jelly.
You can get your first chance to watch the Gophers when they host Concordia of St. Paul in an exhibition game Thursday at 7 p.m. at Williams Arena.