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Ledyard's Woodruff has become a master of basketball trick shots

Ledyard — Meet Jack Woodruff, a basketball trick shot artist with his sights set on becoming a social media influencer.

You never know what crazy creations he'll come up with.

Woodruff invests hours into perfecting his trick shots that he'll post on social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Twitter. For now, his basketball laboratory is his driveway court at his Ledyard home.

His latest masterpiece — a crazy difficult dribble between the legs, around the back, spinning, backward flip shot that he converted from the top of the key — landed last week on ESPN.com under the heading of Quarantine Tricks.

Twice he's been on SportsCenter's top 10 plays.

"That was crazy," Woodruff said. "I never know how to react really. I just get butterflies. That was exciting."

The down-to-earth, creative 19-year-old University of Vermont student blessed with mad basketball skills is just doing something that he loves and seeing where it takes him.

A former Ledyard High School basketball player, he's gradually gaining quite a following along the way.

One popular video, which was posted on TikTok and showed him creatively dribbling to the beat of a hip-hop song, went viral, earning 9.5 million views.

"It blew up," Woodruff said. "When that happened, I was like I don't even know what's going on."

So how did he get started down this path?

After watching basketball tricks on the internet, he decided to start doing his own in high school. He set up a YouTube channel.

"I always thought it was interesting," Woodruff said. "I had never seen anyone play basketball that way, so I've always been intrigued by it."

At UVM, he continued to experiment and expand his repertoire while working out at the student recreation center every weekend for about six hours. He sets up his trusty camera on a tripod to catch his basketball magic act.

"I did a lot of trick shots and trick layups, stuff like that," Woodruff said. "I remember I just posted one and it did really well. I just kept doing it from there."

After posting his first video, Instagram gave him a $23 credit to promote it.

He was hooked.

What viewers don't see is the massive amount of work needed to try to complete a trick shot. He experiences far more failure than success during the process, severely testing his patience and resolve.

First, he spends about 30 minutes developing the routine for each shot, adding layers as he goes. On average, he says it can take anywhere from one to three hours to complete it to his satisfaction. Then there's the editing process after that.

He pushes his physical limits.

He'll try anything, from wearing a blindfold or a costume while performing a shot. He's incorporated friends into his routines.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

"I get frustrated often," Woodruff said. "It's definitely a challenge, but it's fun. The end product is always the best part, seeing people react to it, saying, 'Oh, wow. This is amazing. It's so cool.' "

His parents, Nancy and Scott, both teachers in the Ledyard school system, are 100 percent behind their son.

"I'm totally amazed by his perseverance and the whole process," Nancy said standing in the driveway watching her son work out on Friday. "He doesn't give up. There's no quit in this kid."

Woodruff appreciates their support.

"They see how passionate I am about it," Woodruff said. "But they definitely want me to realize that there's a little bit of luck involved with everything and that I should work as hard as possible and at the same time have a back-up plan."

Woodruff is keeping things in the proper perspective. His trick shot videos are only blowing up the internet, not his head.

A mechanical engineering major, he's firmly focused on finishing the last two years of college.

But he'll continue to dedicate his free time to his hobby and passion.

He has lofty goals.

He says he's shooting to be the next great basketball influencer. He wants to inspire people and grow his brand across all platforms. He also would like to collaborate with other trick shots artists. He's thinking about expanding into merchandising, starting with a t-shirt that features a positive message.

He's a dreamer, believing anything is possible.

"I believe in myself," Woodruff said. "No one ever thought I'd get this far."

Others apparently are starting to believe in Woodruff's potential as a social media influencer.

A few companies have sent him products to try out. He's received basketballs and sports drinks.

Woodruff is just getting started.

"I think it can take me to the point where hopefully, as least for a few years, maybe make a living off of it and a name for myself," Woodruff said. "I know that's a low chance or whatever. But I don't see any harm in going for it and hoping for the best.

"Obviously, I'm still going to school and getting a degree. .. I just want to keep posting videos and doing what I love. It's just a hobby and hopefully it can turn into more."

g.keefe@theday.com

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