Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, Head Coach: Texas Southern
Cynthia Cooper-Dyke is in the pantheon of all-time great basketball players and is in the argument for the greatest WNBA player ever, alongside Candace Parker, Sheryl Swoopes, Diana Taurasi and Lisa Leslie.
“Coach Coop” has made her mark as a collegiate head coach as well, with a 245-183 record in 15 seasons. Cooper-Dyke’s story begins as part of one of the greatest college basketball teams ever assembled.
Coached by Linda Sharp, the Women of Troy during Cooper-Dyke’s era featured Cheryl Miller, Pamela McGee and Dr. Paula McGee. USC won consecutive National Championships in 1983 and 1984, with another appearance in the title game in 1986. Cooper-Dyke also won an Olympic Gold Medal in 1988.
Since there were no pro leagues for women, Cooper-Dyke was forgotten in the States but became a star in Europe. Cooper-Dyke spent a decade playing in Europe.
Cooper-Dyke returned from Europe and signed with the Houston Comets in 1997 when the WNBA was formed. The Comets became the first dynasty in the WNBA, winning four consecutive titles, and Cooper-Dyke was Finals MVP all four years.
After her playing days were done, Cooper-Dyke showed a penchant for rebuilding college programs. In 2005, she took over the Prairie View A&M program, leading them to their first NCAA tournament ever in her second season. The Panthers made two more trips to the tournament and earned two WNIT invitations.
The Panthers won three SWAC titles and two SWAC regular season and conference titles. Cooper-Dyke rebuilt UNC-Wilmington, brought USC women’s basketball back to prominence, and has won 20 games twice where she currently coaches at Texas Southern.