PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas – PVAMU women’s basketball coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke is in the running for basketball’s most prestigious honor and hoops immortality.
Cooper-Dyke is officially a finalist for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. It is named after James A. Naismith, who invented the sport of basketball in 1891. She could arguably be joining the best group of inductees of all time with the likes of Michael Jordan, David Robinson, John Stockton and C. Vivien String also being named finalist for the class of 2009. “It feels great to be considered a finalist and the first thing I thought of is how proud my mother would be if she was still here,” said Cooper Dyke. ‘When you’re a kid you grow up dreaming of things like this and it’s even more exciting because I didn’t even know I was being considered plus I’m more in awe than anything that they would consider me and my career”.
Cooper-Dyke’s induction would be the final exclamation point on an unbelievable playing career that included numerous accomplishments. She was a four-year letter winner at guard for USC from 1982-86 and led the Trojans to back-to-back NCAA tournament titles in 1983 and 1984 and closed out her collegiate career with an appearance in the 1986 NCAA tournament championship game and a spot on the NCAA Final Four All-Tournament Team. Cooper-Dyke ranks eighth on USC’s all-time scoring list with 1,559 points, fifth in assists (381) and third in steals (256). She started her professional career in Europe in 1986 and represented the United States proudly in the Olympic Games in 1988 and 1992. She returned to the United States to play in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) in 1997 with the Houston Comets. She made a profound impact on the league leading the Comets to four consecutive WNBA titles and retired as the franchises all-time leading scorer with 2,601 points.
Cooper Dyke began her collegiate coaching career in 2005 after being named head women’s basketball coach at Prairie View A&M University. She recently coached the team to back-to-back regular season conference championships, the most wins in school history (22) and a berth to play in the 2008 Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). More impressively, in only her second season she was named SWAC co-coach of the year after leading the Lady Panthers to their first winning season in program history. The team won the conference tournament in 2007 and advanced to play in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship.
Cooper-Dyke is considered a basketball icon as a player and has already started making progress toward becoming a coaching legend. “I have the same goals as a head coach that I did as a player and as long as you want to be the best, you have to beat the best,” said Cooper Dyke. “The reason I took the job at Prairie View is because I wanted to be the second coach ever to take a HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) to the Final Four and I want to go to the Final Four with Prairie View and win a NCAA Championship”.