Jacki Gemelos, the nation's top recruit in 2006, made her collegiate debut Thursday night for USC's women's basketball team in a 61-55 loss to California at Berkeley after being sidelined since her arrival because of a series of season-ending knee injuries.
Gemelos made an immediate impact, leading all players with five assists in 28 minutes and adding eight points in the losing effort.
"It was unbelievable, one of the greatest feelings of my life to this point," she said afterward. "It would have been nice to get the W today, it would have made my day absolutely perfect, but it was still great -- best feeling in the world."
The McDonald's All-American and consensus No. 1 player in the country in 2006 originally committed to Connecticut but switched to USC. She then tore her anterior cruciate ligament as a high school senior, forcing her to miss her freshman year at USC.
In her second year, Gemelos tore the same ACL in the fall, then tore it again her junior year preventing her from playing her first game until her fourth year at USC.
"Just my passion for basketball has carried me this entire way. I knew I wanted to persevere through this adversity," Gemelos said. "Basketball means the world to me, so I knew I was going to stick at it each time that it happened. It has to be inside of you to persevere through ACL injuries. I have had a lot of people throughout the Pac-10 ask me about it and how I did it, and I just give them the best advice I can."