One Twitter follower asked her to marry him. ESPN is comparing her to Steph Curry. Meanwhile, the Huskies star is focused — well aware her team has never even won the Pac-12 tournament or a national title.
So what’s next for Kelsey Plum after making history?
Seriously, how does life get any better for the Washington Huskies star who captured the NCAA women’s basketball all-time scoring record with one of the greatest performances of all time?
She scored 57 points last Saturday in a spine-tingling, thrill ride of a game that reverberated around the sports world.
Pac-12 tournament, UW women vs. Oregon, 8:30 p.m., Pac-12
The Mariners, Seahawks and Storm passed along compliments via Twitter as did UW President Ana Mari Cauce, UW football coach Chris Petersen and UW men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar.
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She received shout outs on social media from former Husky stars Dejounte Murray, Lawyer Milloy and Spencer Hawes; and garnered praise from basketball dignitaries Kobe Bryant and Nancy Lieberman.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray proclaimed Feb. 25, 2017 as “Kelsey Plum Day,” while Governor Jay Inslee tweeted congratulations.
In the past two weeks, Plum has made three appearances on ESPN’s SportsCenter and managed to steal the spotlight from the Connecticut Huskies’ 104-game winning streak that’s dominated the conversation in women’s basketball.
She’s been praised, glorified and feted as one of the best to ever play in college, which has been somewhat stressful for Plum, who would rather focus on what’s ahead.
“I get that people want to focus on me chasing the record, but correct me if I’m wrong, have we ever won a Pac-12 Tournament title?” Plum asked rhetorically, knowing UW has never even made it to the championship game since the tournament began in 2002.
“Did we win the NCAA (tournament) title last year and I missed it? I’m kidding, of course. But when you think about it, we haven’t won anything yet. Not really. Yes, we’ve won some big games and we’ve done some great things, but I’m talking about titles. I want to win a title before I’m done and time is running out.”
To Plum’s delight, the chase is over. She passed previous record holder Jackie Stiles, the Missouri State star, and now has 3,397 points.
In her mind, there are no more individual records to pursue. Yeah, she’s 83 points away from the NCAA single-season record of 1,062 set by Stiles in 2000-01 and within range of Pete Maravich’s all-time NCAA men’s scoring record (3,667).
“You ask Jackie or anybody who has a record like that if they would trade it for a title and the answer is yeah, they would,” Plum said. “I know I would. That’s just how I’m wired.
“If people remember me for anything, I want to be remembered as somebody who went out there and competed like crazy. … And I’m hoping to go out as a winner.”
So what’s next for Plum after making history? Well, she returns to the court at 8:30 p.m. Friday when No. 3 seed Washington (27-4) plays No. 6 Oregon (19-12) in the Pac-12 quarterfinals.
It’s a chance for Plum, a 5-foot-8 senior point guard, to continue writing a storybook finish to her fairy-tale of a season.
A year ago, UW upset Stanford in the quarterfinals before falling short and losing 57-55 in the semis to Oregon State.
If the Huskies are going to win their first Pac-12 Tournament title, they’ll likely face No. 2 seed Stanford in the semifinals and No. 1 seed Oregon State, the defending champions, in the title game.
Plum, the Pac-12 MVP who leads the nation with a 31.6 scoring average, loves this time of the season when the stakes and the stage gets bigger with each win.
On the court Plum is in her element, but admittedly she’s still a little uncomfortable with her growing fame.
Take for instance, the marriage proposal from some guy on Twitter.
“He wrote something like, ‘Will you marry me? Got to shoot your shot,’ ” Plum said laughing. “What are you going to do? I favored it. I did not retweet that one. … I don’t want to say I’m used to things like that, because I don’t think you’ll ever get used to that.”
Her game has been analyzed in an ESPN Sports Science segment that compared her favorably to Golden State Warriors sharp shooters Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
She’s been featured in a YouTube video that likened her to James Harden, the Houston Rockets star who she chats with periodically on social media.
As Plum’s popularity grows — she’s doubled her Instagram followers to 62,000 during the season — Mike Neighbors, UW’s four-year coach, is amazed at how Plum has handled the attention.
“I don’t know how Kelsey has done it,” he said. “I really don’t. We were on the road and she had a line of 200 people to sign autographs and I think she signed every one of them. She’s missed some free throws and jump shots in her life, but she hasn’t missed an interview question yet. She’s 1,000.
“She hasn’t put one thing on social media that’s negative. She hasn’t said one thing in the paper that’s bulletin board material or can be construed as poor for a college student-athlete. That’s unbelievable. The number of opportunities that she’s been given to mess it up and she’s nailed every single one of them.”
Plum, a self-described gym rat, hasn’t allowed media requests to impinge on a regimented schedule in which she balances basketball commitments and class studies.
Once a week the anthropology major mentors high school and middle school students — a class requirement that’s endeared her to the community.
“I keep it light,” Plum said. “I think maybe they walk in there and expect me to preach to them. I don’t do that. That’s not me. I talk to them about their day. Ask them what are you learning? What are you struggling with? What do you want to know?”
Working with teenagers also helps Plum, 22, stay grounded.
“Just when you think you’ve arrived or anything like that, I walk in there and they spelled my name Kelsey Paige,” she said. “So I’m walking around with a Kelsey Paige name tag. That happened. And I was like, nope we’re still not there yet. So thank you for that.”
Plum’s other can’t-miss commitment is date night with Chantel Osahor. Before the season, the UW stars started going out once a week for dinner or a movie.
“A little while back we saw Split, but here’s the deal: I can’t do scary movies,” Plum said. “So we’re about to play in a game and she was doing a jump ball with somebody super athletic.
“Right before she did the jump ball, I looked at her and said if you win this I’ll go see that movie with you. It was like (Oregon’s) Ruthie Hebard, someone like super tall. Chantel jumped up and tipped it right back to me. I almost couldn’t play the rest of the game I was laughing so hard.”
Instilling fun into the season has been important for Plum.
“When I stop having fun, I’m not going to play as well and our team is not going to play as well,” she said. “It’s really been a fun year. I don’t try to think about any of the records or things like that.”
One secret to Plum’s success is managing her sleep and diet.
“I sleep at least nine hours a night,” said Plum, who is in bed by 9 on most nights. “If I need to do something, I’ll wake up in the morning and do it. I love to sleep.”
Plum also loves chicken tacos from Joey Kitchen at University Village, but in accordance to her new diet — she doesn’t eat fast food, dairy or ice cream — she rarely indulges in her favorite meal anymore.
“Once in awhile I’ll cheat, but I try to eat pretty healthy,” Plum said. “I started this past summer. I changed my body. I want to be a professional so I started acting like it.
“It was tough at first, but then you think about what’s in store and why you’re doing it. … And seeing my efficiency numbers now, I’ll never go back. I’ve gotten so much better. I feel different. I feel slimmer. I feel in better shape. I just feel more energy.”
Plum is shooting 53.7 percent from the field and 43.6 on three-pointers, which is an increase from last season. Surprisingly, her free throw percentage has dipped slightly to 88.7, which is a point of contention for the scoring ace.
“She’s got an NBA game because she plays against a lot of the NBA guys in the summers,” said Will Conroy, a UW men’s basketball assistant. “She’s out there running with us. Guys like Nate (Robinson) and she’s more than holding her own.”
Plum and Conroy have regularly played 1 on 1 for the two past years and the UW star came out on top for the first time this season.
“You can see a lot of Isaiah (Thomas) in her,” Conroy said. “That suddenness. The way she changes speeds. She’s small out there, but she knows how to create room to get her shot off. Isaiah does the same thing.”
Plum, who could have starred in volleyball like her mother Katie and older sisters Caitlyn and Lauren, studies highlights of Diana Taurasi and Chris Paul.
She laughs when thinking about the hours spent honing her basketball skills. “Too many to count,” she said.
When asked if she had any regrets about her Washington career, Plum paused.
“Let’s see how we finish this out and I’ll tell you,” she said. “No, maybe just one. I should have had more fun being a ’college kid’ and gone out a few more times.
“Otherwise, it’s turned out better than I could have dreamed.”