Gemelos lives WNBA dream, if her knees will allow her

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 13, 2013 - 11:59 PM

After five ACL repairs, Jacki Gemelos won’t give up game she loves.

hide

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, left, instructed Jacki Gemelos at practice. Gemelos, at 6-0, plays both guard spots.

Photo: MARLIN LEVISON, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Jacki Gemelos will wake up in the middle of the night with the feeling of butterflies in her stomach, maybe a little clutch of fear.

What if it doesn’t happen?

What if the dream of playing in the WNBA, one she’s had since she was seven, doesn’t come true? What if all the injuries have taken their toll? What if all the rehab and all the pain that went with it doesn’t pay off?

She shook her head, as if to dispel such thoughts. Maybe that day will come, perhaps before she’s ready for it. But for now there is no room, no time. Gemelos, a guard vying for a roster spot during Lynx training camp, is too invested in her WNBA dream to give up now.

“I can’t see myself walking away,” she said. “Not yet. Not until I get a chance.”

Gemelos is a case study in perseverance. Only 24, she already has undergone five reconstructive knee surgeries, three on her left knee, two on her right, all for the anterior cruciate ligament. Gemelos reels them off with little emotion, sharing the details of injuries that ended some seasons, prevented others.

She was introduced to the game by her dad, Steve, who played in college and in Europe. At St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, Calif., her skills were so prodigious she was compared to Pete Maravich — which she loved because he had been her dad’s favorite player.

At 15, Gemelos became the youngest player to commit to UConn before opting to stay closer to home at USC. People already were saying she was good enough to jump right to the WNBA when Gemelos was a high school senior in 2006. She was averaging 39.2 points, 8.9 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.7 steals when, during a playoff game, she tore the ACL in her right knee, ending her high school career.

It was the first significant injury of her life. But not the last.

Just the beginning

After taking a redshirt year, Gemelos was getting ready for the 2007-08 season when she tore the right ACL again. A year later, she tore her left ACL in an individual workout. Eight months into rehab after that surgery, doctors discovered the graft that had been used had been rejected by her body, requiring yet another surgery.

Finally, after more months of rehab, Gemelos made her college debut on Feb. 4, 2010, picking up eight points, five assists and five rebounds against California. She went on to play in 11 games that season.

In 2010-11, she entered the season fully healthy and averaged 12.9 points per game while leading the Pacific-12 Conference in three-point shooting (42.2 percent). That summer Gemelos was part of the U.S. team that won gold at the World University Games.

And then, nine games into her 2011-12 season, it happened again. She tore an ACL during a game at Texas A&M. Her left knee, again.

So why keep at it? Gemelos — who was home in California when the Lynx made her a third-round pick in the 2012 draft — is quick to answer.

“I ask myself that, too,” she said. “But if I even entertain the thought of not playing before I got my shot here, it gave me a bad taste in my mouth. I have a passion for basketball. Not everyone is as fortunate to have a passion. I’m just going to keep going until I absolutely have to stop.”

Tough on the whole family

Sitting in the stands watching one injury after another takes its toll, too.

  • related content

  • Chart: The Jacki Gemelos file

    Monday May 13, 2013

    THE JACKI GEMELOS FILEPosition: GuardHeight: 6-0Age: 24Hometown: Stockton, Calif.Career: Scored 3,162 points at St. Mary’s High School, averaging 39.2 points...

  • Jacki Gemelos was the nation’s top college recruit in 2006, but five knee surgeries have ended or interrupted seasons.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - LP: J. Peavy 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: K. Herrera 7
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 90 FINAL
Orlando 89
Brooklyn 86 FINAL
Boston 100
Washington 100 FINAL
New York 103
Cleveland 92 FINAL
Memphis 96
Minnesota 110 FINAL
Milwaukee 91
Atlanta 117 FINAL
San Antonio 107
Portland 86 FINAL
LA Lakers 94
Phoenix 80 4th Qtr
LA Clippers 79
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 5 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Washington 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Buffalo 0 3rd Prd 11:45
Anaheim 2
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 2
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who should get the Twins' managing job?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close