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How a New York City high schooler made 'the jelly' the coolest move in basketball

The jelly is coming to college basketball this season, and it’s going to be glorious.

There’s a movement coming to college basketball this season, one born in New York City that will soon be felt all around the country. It will be rooted at Minnesota, of all places, where a Harlem-bred guard is set to give the Golden Gophers more national appeal than they ever imagined.

The jelly is here, it’s happening, and it’s about to make the college hoops landscape a richer place.

This is Isaiah Washington, the reigning New York Mr. Basketball and the inadvertent starter of a revolution. That twisting, spinning, undeniably cool layup you just saw? He calls that a jelly.

Washington coined the term himself. At this point, it’s part of the modern basketball lexicon. If you haven’t heard of the jelly, JellyFam and all of its influence yet, it’s time to catch up.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is a jelly?

A jelly is a finger roll with style.

Here’s Washington explaining it in his own words:

You gotta get in the air, float, kick your legs open, flick it with some English, use different angles off the glass, stuff like that. Left hand, right hand, reverses—there are a lot of variations to it.

Where did the jelly come from?

A young Washington remembers being inspired by the clip of Michael Jordan jumping from the free-throw line in the 1988 NBA Dunk Contest. There was only one problem: He couldn’t dunk himself. He did the next best thing and started mimicking Jordan’s iconic move on his layups.

What are the three keys to a good jelly?

Glad you asked:

a) Hold the ball outward for a split second so it almost looks like you’re going to dunk.

b) Kick your legs out like MJ.

c) Put some serious English on the finish.

OK, can we see him Jelly again now?

Thank you for your patience.

Do not attempt this next one at home unless you are an extremely flexible teenager:

Does Washington ever miss a jelly?

Not according to his high school coaches:

I got frustrated when I initially saw him Jelly, because I kept thinking he was going to miss. But he always makes the layup.

Why did Washington end up at Minnesota?

Washington played for New Heights, a NYC-based grassroots program, as a high school player. Two years ago, Minnesota hired Kimani Young as an assistant on his staff. Young is the former program director at New Heights.

If you’re wondering why the the best player in New York City committed to Minnesota — especially a consensus top-75 prospect like Washington — that’s a good place to start.

So, this is a movement?

It has become one, yes.

Two years ago, Washington and his friend Ja'Quaye James — now a senior point guard at Teaneck High School in New Jersey — decided to brand themselves as JellyFam. The group now includes eight players with roots in the tri-state area.

As Washington kept gaining more attention for his signature move, JellyFam blew up on social media. Now everyone wants to jelly.

Who is in JellyFam?

The family , Big Jelly

A post shared by Isaiah Washington (@jellyfam_dimes) on

JellyFam includes: UConn freshman Sid Wilson, five-star recruit Jahvon Quinerly (yes, the former Arizona pledge likely mentioned in the FBI investigation), Seton Hall guard Jordan Walker, Robert Morris guard Leondre Washington, high school guard Pedro Marquez, and Ole Miss freshman Milicia Reid, the group’s only female player.

How do you get in JellyFam?

You have to jelly on someone three times in one game.

Are there a bunch of examples of kids jellying on social media?

You know it.

Oh my... Follow @crazycrosses for more!

A post shared by Basketball (@nbanation) on

Have NBA players caught on to the jelly?

Oh yes. Just LeBron and John Wall, no biggie:

I’m gonna need to see some more jelly

This jelly freestyle session is real fun. Quinerly in particular is mesmerizing:

Are there any cool in-air jelly photos?

From Washington’s Instagram:

A post shared by Isaiah Washington (@jellyfam_dimes) on

From his now defunct Twitter:

Isaiah Washington’s twitter account

Wait, what happened to Washington’s Twitter?

It looks like Pitino made his team deactivate from Twitter. This is a crime. Washington built a grassroots following from scratch off the strength of his own marketing genius. You can buy jelly T-shirts now. Nike might have initially tried to use the phrase for a colorway on Paul George’s new shoes.

The jelly spread through social media. As Washington enters the college level this season, his influence is only going to get bigger. Let the kid back on Twitter, and allow him to watch what he built.