The University of Minnesota has never had a student with the social media reach of Isaiah Washington.
Washington, 19, was Mr. New York Basketball last year, after a highlight reel career at St. Raymond's, a Catholic school in the Bronx, where Washington put up 26 points and six assists per game last year.
Good basketball performance gets you plaques. Star quality gets you social media followers. This, Washington has in a way even few high-profile athletes his age can fathom. At 19, he and a crew of mostly New York-based players are trying to (literally) single-handedly reinvent the finger roll, still the prettiest way to get two points on a basketball court.
Check this out.
Damn. Don't you just want to take that shot out to dinner and keep telling it how pretty it is?
As the ringleader of the crew, and the coiner of the phrase "Jelly Fam," Washington is also a budding star on the New York City playground circuit, where people way more famous than him have shown up to see him play. Here's a whole mini-documentary about the little scene Washington helped create.
Washington seems like a cool dude, and is easily the most-hyped recruit to Minnesota basketball -- and perhaps Minnesota, the state -- in years. He has 407,000 Instagram followers. That's off 35 Instagram posts.
This picture of him wearing a sweatsuit on a couch got 33,000 likes.
Go ahead, try doing that yourself. See how many likes you get.
Washington's social media reach is astonishing, given that he's only just reaching the big stage. Last night, the U of M played its first preseason game, doubling-up Concordia College in a 106-58 win. In his first game in maroon and gold, the freshman Washington had only nine of those points -- but you bet your ass two came on his signature Jelly Fam finger roll. Check out the highlight at the 45-second mark of this video.
Plenty of highlights from last night's exhibition win. pic.twitter.com/MMf5vzIOG2— Minnesota MBB (@GopherMBB) November 3, 2017
Washington's presence is less pronounced on Twitter, though his reach still approached the 37,500-ish following of the entire basketball program. As of August, Washington's @jellyfam_dimes account had 30,000-some followers. As of the last couple days, they're all probably wondering where the hell Washington went.
Following a move initiated by coach Richard Pitino, Washington has joined almost the entire roster of Minnesota Gophers basketball players in "deactivating" their accounts during the basketball season.
This, a team spokesman says, is to help limit "distractions/noise" during the hoops schedule. It's a tradition that dates back a few seasons, thought we suspect it became more of a thing after the episode when one player's account tweeted-and-deleted what looked like group sex involving players. (Three players were later suspended, though two are still with the team.)
A search of team accounts finds that only a couple -- Reggie Lynch, Jamir Harris -- look active as of this morning. (Gaston Diedhu and Matz Stockman have accounts, but neither has tweeted since July 2014, when each made announcements they'd made it to Minneapolis.)
"Players can (and do) still use Instagram during the season," the team spokesman explained, which will be a relief to the Minneapolis-sized group interested in seeing what Isaiah Washington's up to.
But what about the Brooklyn Center-sized @jellyfam_dimes had built on Twitter? What becomes of that?
Twitter's got some bad news for them, and for young Mr. Washington. According to this support article, an account can be reactivated if it's done within 30 days. That takes these Gophers players through early December; they have games scheduled through February, and undoubtedly hope they're playing a few in March.
Maybe Washington and other Gophers players are planning to sneakily log back in to their accounts every 30 days to keep them alive. That'd be the only way to save his once-lit Twitter feed. In the meantime, try finding him on Instagram. We can't guarantee he follows back. We do know he follows his coach's instructions.
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