Dishin & Swishin 7/24/15 Podcast: Perseverance rewarded, Jacki Gemelos joins the Chicago Sky
On June 17, Twitter erupted with congratulatory tweets for a 26-year old rookie signed to a contract with the Chicago Sky. Players, coaches, even journalists without exception were excited to see Jacki Gemelos, survivior of five ACL surgeries, make the WNBA.
This is no ordinary rookie, and this is no ordinary comeback-from-injury story. Gemelos is the former number one high school player in the country, a player who verbally chose the University of Connecticut early in her high school career, before deciding to go to Southern California to stay closer to home.
She suffered multiple ACL tears in both knees, the first coming in the final game of a storied high school career. She suffered four more tears while at USC, all the while persevering and not giving up when many others would. While not the dynamic scorer she was as a high school player, enough skill remained that she was chosen to be a part of the 2011 United States World University Games.
That team featured players like Elena Delle Donne, Skylar Diggins, both Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike, Devereaux Peters, and more. They blew out their opponents by an average of 45 points per game on their way to gold.
Gemelos was drafted in the third round by the Minnesota Lynx in 2012, and took the year to get herself in better shape and ready to compete. She was brought back by Minnesota the next season, and disappointed to be cut in 2013, but went to Greece to work on her skills and get more pro ready.
This led to a 2014 camp invite by the Atlanta Dream, coached by former USC coach Michael Cooper. Again, she was released, and as she discusses in the podcast, a more disappointing blow than the prior year. It was off to Italy this time, playing in the same league as Chiney Ogwumike, getting stronger and stronger.
Gemelos was surprised when Pokey Chatman invited her to camp this season, as she did not think Chicago was a team that needed her skills. After all, Cappie Pondexter, Allie Quigley, and Courtney Vandersloot were already on the roster at the guard positions. But Chatman loves versatile players, and she loves intelligent players. Gemelos fits both of those descriptions, and despite being the last person cut at the start of the season, Gemelos was recalled and signed when Quigley left to go play overseas for Hungary.
Which leads us back to those tweets trumpeting the arrival of Gemelos to the WNBA. In her fifth game, on July 12, she knocked down a three-pointer for her first basket, and the bench erupted in joy. As she says herself, that was the best part of making the shot.
It is a pleasure to answer so many of your requests, and have Gemelos back on Dishin & Swishin. The last time she was on, she was trying out for the Lynx. This time, she is a member of the Sky.
Enjoy the podcast!