Having a younger sister who knows what it’s like will help Kelly Jekot.
The Villanova women’s basketball junior guard suffered a devastating knee injury in March during the Big East Tournament, completely tearing her ACL and partially tearing her MCL and LCL. She also injured a muscle in her hamstring and had a lateral meniscus tear.
The Cumberland Valley grad said it was similar to the injury Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz suffered in 2017.
But this isn’t entirely uncharted territory for Jekot. That aforementioned younger sister — Katie — tore her ACL right before her freshman year at St. Joseph’s. Katie knew what recovery would be like.
“As soon as I got hurt, she posted a picture on Instagram … She was like, ‘You’re gonna get through this,’” Kelly said.
Jekot underwent a month of pre-hab in order to strengthen her knee and allow the ligaments to heal enough before surgery — which was April 19. Katie is already helping out. On Wednesday, Kelly’s incision started burning. So she texted her sister to ask if it was normal.
“It’s awesome. I mean, I was there for her when she was going through all this. And at the time all I could do was try to understand,” Jekot said Thursday, on her way with her sister to King of Prussia Mall. “For her now, being there by my side, she did go through it and she can push me to be [where I need to be]. ... It is really calming to have someone who has been through it.”
Jekot suffered the injury against Georgetown in the final minutes of the game. She went to drive to her left, and when she tried to stop and plant on her right leg just outside the restricted circle, her leg buckled. She believes that’s the instant her ACL tore, and when the defender trailing her collided with her leg, it caused the rest of the damage.
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“My teammates are in postseason right now, and I obviously [wanted to] be there,” she said about some of her emotions in the aftermath of the injury.
Jekot will redshirt her senior year and expects to return for the 2020-21 season. She could’ve tried to rush and be back on the court in nine months, the earliest doctors believed she could heal and rehab, but she would have missed the first half of the 2019-20 season and may not have been 100% in basketball shape when she returned.
“I’m not nervous to not be out there because these are all my best friends on the court,” Jekot said, adding she’s ready to support them during the upcoming season. “I am nervous right now, obviously, to play again.”
Jekot was a two-time All-State Class 4A Player of the Year and two-time Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year during her four years at Cumberland Valley, leading the Eagles to three consecutive PIAA championships while scoring 2,141 career points before graduating in 2016.
She committed to Villanova, where she was named the Big 5 Most Improved Player of the Year after her sophomore season and then made Big 5 First Team this past season.
The Wildcats went 19-13 with Jekot starting every game until her injury. They lost that March 10 game to Georgetown 76-67, then made it to the WNIT second round, losing to West Virginia.
Jekot was second on the team with 13.8 points and 4.6 rebounds, and she averaged 2.5 assists. Over three seasons in Philadelphia, including two as a starting guard, she scored 990 points.