USC's Jacki Gemelos has torn ACL

Updated: December 21, 2011, 2:17 AM ET
By Ramona Shelburne | ESPNLosAngeles.com

USC senior guard Jacki Gemelos, once the top high school recruit in the country and a current nominee for the Naismith Award as women's college basketball's best player, has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee.

It is the fourth time she has torn the ACL in her knees and the fifth time she will have an ACL reconstruction surgery.

Although she will miss the rest of USC's season, which effectively ends her college career, she vowed Tuesday that her career is not over.

"I'm not done. I can't walk away like this. I won't walk away like this," Gemelos told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "I feel like I have so much more to give. I'm only 23. I'm not ready to hang it up. I'm ready to get my surgery done and get my rehab going and then shock the world."

Gemelos was averaging 11.0 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists before she crumpled to the ground Dec. 18 in a game at Texas A&M.

Although the diagnosis was just confirmed Tuesday, she said she knew immediately that her season, and college career, was over.

"I knew right when I came down," she said. "The tears, the screaming, the slamming the floor, that wasn't because it hurt.

"I'm so mad. I've never been more mad at an injury than this one. This time around I'm more mad than I am sad, which is saying a lot.

"I feel like I was just starting to really come on. Even in that game. Right before it happened, I felt like I could tear that game apart. ... My body felt 100 percent. Did my game feel 100 percent every day? No. But there were enough days that it was."

Gemelos was considered the top recruit in the country coming out of St. Mary's High in Stockton in 2006. She initially committed to Connecticut, but changed her mind and decided to go to Southern Cal, immediately becoming the program's most heralded recruit in a decade.

It took four years for her to play her first game, however. Gemelos tore the ACL in her right knee during a playoff game her senior year and missed all of what would've been her freshman season. She was set to come back the following year, but tore her right ACL again during off-season workouts. In 2008 she tore her left ACL and missed the entire 2008-09 season. Before the 2009 season, the team's training staff discovered that her body had rejected the graft used to repair the knee and she had to undergo another knee reconstruction.

She made her college debut Feb. 4, 2010 at California. Since then she appeared in 57 games averaging 11.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists. USC advanced to the 2011 WNIT Final. She was named an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection. Over the summer, she helped the United States to a gold medal in the World University games.

"I'm sure people are tired of my positive outlook on this and wondering when is this girl going to give it up," she said. "But I don't care. It's about me and what I want out of life.

"I want to put on a WNBA jersey. That's what I've always wanted and I'm going to do it."

Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.