Cynthia Cooper
Cooper-Dyke in 2011
Personal information
Born (1963-04-14) April 14, 1963 (age 61)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Listed height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Listed weight150 lb (68 kg)
Career information
High schoolLocke (Los Angeles, California)
CollegeUSC (1982–1986)
Playing career1986–2003
PositionPoint guard / shooting guard
Coaching career2001–2022
Career history
As player:
1987–1994Basket Parma
1994–1996SC Alcamo
19972000, 2003Houston Comets
As coach:
2001–2002Phoenix Mercury
2005–2010Prairie View A&M
2010–2012UNC Wilmington
2012–2013Texas Southern
2019–2022Texas Southern
Career highlights and awards
As player:

As coach:

  • CAA Coach of the Year (2011)
Career WNBA statistics
Points2,601 (21.0 ppg)
Rebounds403 (3.3 rpg)
Assists602 (4.9 apg)
Stats at
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
Women's Basketball Hall of Fame
Women's basketball
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1988 Seoul Team competition
Bronze medal – third place 1992 Barcelona Team competition
Pan American Games
Gold medal – first place 1987 Indianapolis Team competition
FIBA World Championship
Gold medal – first place 1986 Moscow Team competition
Gold medal – first place 1990 Malaysia Team competition
Jones Cup
Silver medal – second place 1981 Taipei Team competition
Assistant coach for  United States
FIBA Under-19 World Championship
Gold medal – first place 2007 Bratislava Team competition

Cynthia Lynne Cooper-Dyke (born April 14, 1963) is an American basketball coach and former player who has won championships in college, in the Olympics, and in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). She is considered by many as one of the greatest female basketball players ever.[1] In 2011, Cooper-Dyke was voted by fans as one of the Top 15 players in WNBA history. Upon the league's formation, she played for the Houston Comets from 1997 to 2000, being named the Most Valuable Player of the WNBA Finals in all four seasons, and returned to play again in 2003. Cooper-Dyke still holds the record for most Finals MVPs with four. On April 30, 2019, she was introduced as the head coach for the Texas Southern Lady Tigers basketball team, a position she held in the 2012–13 season. She has also coached at USC, UNC Wilmington, Prairie View A&M, and, professionally, for the Phoenix Mercury. Cooper-Dyke was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

Early years

High school

Cooper attended Locke High School before enrolling at the University of Southern California. Cooper participated athletically in both track and field as well as basketball. She led her team to the California State Championship (4A) scoring an average of 31 points per game, and scoring 44 points in one game. Cooper was named the Los Angeles Player of the Year.[2]


Cooper was a four-year letter winner at guard for USC from 1982 to 1986. She led the Women of Troy to NCAA appearances in all four years, Final Four appearances in three of her four years, and back-to-back NCAA tournament titles in 1983 and 1984.[2] After the 1984 Championship, she briefly left school, but was persuaded to return. She completed four years with USC, although she did not graduate.[3] Cooper 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 ranks eighth on USC's all-time scoring list with 1,559 points, fifth in assists (381) and third in steals (256). While Cooper was at USC, the Women of Troy compiled a record of 114–15. She earned her bachelor's degree from Prairie View A&M University in 2005.[2]

USC statistics


  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
Year Team GP Points FG% FT% RPG APG PPG
1982 USC 25 351 48.5% 67.0% 3.6 NA 14.0
1983 USC 33 313 47.0% 50.8% 4.1 NA 9.5
1984 USC 25 233 46.6% 64.6% 3.5 NA 9.3
1986 USC 36 620 50.6% 74.8% 4.6 2.9 17.2
Career 119 1517 48.7% 66.4% 4.0 0.9 12.7


Team USA

Cooper was named to represent the US at the 1981 William Jones Cup competition in Taipei, Taiwan, while still in high school. The team won seven of eight games to win the silver medal for the event. Cooper scored 2.8 points per game and recorded nine steals.[5]

Cooper was selected to represent the US at the inaugural Goodwill games, held in Moscow in July 1986. North Carolina State's Kay Yow served as head coach. The team opened up with a 72–53 win over Yugoslavia, and followed that with a 21-point win over Brazil 91–70. The third game was against Czechoslovakia and would be much closer. Cheryl Miller was the scoring leader in this game, scoring 26 points to help the US to a 78–70 victory. The US faced Bulgaria in the semi-final match up, and again won, this time 67–58. This set up the final against the Soviet Union, led by 7-foot-2 Ivilana Semenova, considered the most dominant player in the world. The Soviet team, had a 152–2 record in major international competition over the prior three decades, including an 84–82 win over the US in the 1983 World Championships. The Soviets held the early edge, leading 21–19 at one time, before the US went on a scoring run to take a large lead they did not relinquish. The final score was 83–60 in favor of the US, earning the gold medal for the US squad. Cooper averaged 2.0 points per game.[6]

Cooper continued to represent the US with the national team at the 1986 World Championship, held in Moscow, a month after the Goodwill Games in Moscow. The US team was even more dominant this time. The early games were won easily, and the semifinal against Canada, while the closest game for the US so far, ended up an 82–59 victory. At the same time, the Soviet team was winning easily as well, and the final game pitted two teams each with 6–0 records. The Soviet team, having lost only once at home, wanted to show that the Goodwill games setback was a fluke. The US team started by scoring the first eight points, and raced to a 45–23 lead, although the Soviets fought back and reduced the halftime margin to 13. The US went on a 15–1 run in the second half to out the game away, and ended up winning the gold medal with a score of 108–88. Cooper averaged 5.9 points per game.[7]

Cooper played for USA Basketball as part of the 1987 USA Women's Pan American Team which won a gold medal in Indianapolis, Indiana. Cooper was a member of the gold medalist 1988 US Olympic Women's Basketball Team.,[8] and the Bronze Medal team in 1992.[9]


Cooper played for several teams in the European leagues:[2]

During her time playing for Samoa Bétera, a Spanish team, she was the league leading scorer with 36.7 ppg. During the almost ten years she played in the Italian leagues, she was the league's leading scorer eight times, and finished second the other two years.[2]

In 1987, she was the MVP of the European All-Star team. She was also named to the All-Star team of the Italian leagues in 1996–1997.[2]


At the age of 34, Cooper signed to play with the Houston Comets. Cooper has the distinction of scoring the most points out of all players who participated in the first day of the WNBA's conception. On June 21, 1997, 58 women across 6 teams suited up to kick off the WNBA's first scheduled day of competition. On that day, the Comets earned a 76 - 56 win over the Cleveland Rockers where Cooper recorded 25 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 block.[10] She was the only player that day to score 20+ points, thus making her the first player in WNBA history to have a 20-point game.

She led the league in scoring three consecutive years, leading the franchise to a record four WNBA Championships. In addition, she was voted the WNBA's MVP in 1997 and 1998 and named Most Valuable Player in each of those four WNBA Finals. Cooper was named the 1998 Sportswoman of the Year (in the team category) by the Women's Sports Foundation.[11] During the Comet dynasty, she was a vital part of the triple threat offense with Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson. When retired in 2000, Cooper became the first player in WNBA history to score 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 2,500 career points. She scored 30 or more points in 16 of her 120 games and had a 92-game double-figure scoring streak from 1997 to 2000. She went on to coach the Phoenix Mercury for one and a half seasons (2001–2002).[12]

Cooper returned as an active player in the 2003 season, and played only 4 games during that season with the Comets. Her appearance in the game on May 22, 2003, as a 40-year-old, made her the oldest player, at the time, to play in a WNBA game (later being broken by Nancy Lieberman-Cline who at 50 years old, played a game for the Detroit Shock on July 24, 2008).[2]

Cooper's final WNBA game ever was played on June 1, 2003, in a 64 - 68 loss to the Minnesota Lynx with Cooper recording 22 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.[13]

Afterward, she served as a TV analyst and halftime reporter for the Houston Rockets of the NBA. Cooper has also been named one of the top 15 players in the WNBA at the 2011 WNBA All-Star game.[14] During Game 1 of the 2016 WNBA Finals, she was named in the WNBA Top 20@20.

Career statistics

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game  RPG  Rebounds per game
 APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game  BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game
 TO  Turnovers per game  FG%  Field-goal percentage  3P%  3-point field-goal percentage  FT%  Free-throw percentage
 Bold  Career best ° League leader
Denotes seasons in which Cooper won a WNBA championship
WNBA record
Regular season
1997 Houston 28 28 35.1 .470 .414 .864 4.0 4.7 2.1 0.2 3.89 22.2°
1998 Houston 30 30 35.0 .446 .400 .854 3.7 4.4 1.6 0.4 3.17 22.7°
1999 Houston 31 31 35.5 .463 .335 .891 2.8 5.2 1.4 0.4 3.35 22.1°
2000 Houston 31 31 35.0 .459 .355 .875 2.7 5.0 1.3 0.2 3.19 17.7
2003 Houston 4 4 36.0 .421 .389 .893 2.5 5.5 1.0 0.3 3.50 16.0
Career 5 years, 1 team 124 124 35.2‡ .459 .377 .871 3.2 4.9 1.6 0.3 3.40 21.0‡
1997 Houston 2 2 38.5 .533 .400 .741 4.5 4.5 1.5 0.5 3.50 28.0°
1998 Houston 5 5 39.6° .452 .250 .844 3.2 4.4 1.8 1.0 3.00 25.8°
1999 Houston 6 6 36.7 .388 .324 .865 4.3 6.8 1.5 1.0 3.33 20.3
2000 Houston 6 6 38.0 .378 .344 .897 2.5 3.7 1.5 0.2 3.00 22.8°
Career 4 years, 1 team 19 19 38.1 .416 .317 .847 3.5 4.9 1.6 0.7 3.16 23.3‡

College coaching career

Prairie View A&M (2005–2010)

In May 2005, Cooper was named the head coach of the women's basketball team at Prairie View A&M University. In her second season in 2006–07, Cooper-Dyke led the underdog Panthers to their first SWAC women's basketball tournament title and NCAA tournament appearance. Cooper-Dyke was named SWAC Coach of the Year for 2007.[15]

In January 2008, the NCAA penalized Prairie View for NCAA rules violations committed by Cooper, reducing the number of scholarships for the team. The school was placed on four years' probation for "major violations" in 2005–2006 that ranged from Cooper giving players small amounts of cash to various forms of unauthorized practices. Cooper also gave players free tickets to Comets game, which is another NCAA infraction.[16]

In five seasons at Prairie View, Cooper-Dyke had a cumulative 86–72 record.[17]

UNC Wilmington (2010–2012)

On May 10, 2010, Cooper-Dyke was announced as the next head coach of the UNC Wilmington Seahawks Women's Basketball team.[18] In Cooper-Dyke's first season, UNCW achieved an historic high in wins with a 24–9 record and appeared in the 2011 Women's National Invitation Tournament.[15] Cooper-Dyke was the 2011 Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year, her third conference yearly honor of that sort.[15]

First stint at Texas Southern (2012–2013)

On April 10, 2012, Cooper resigned from UNCW and became the head coach at Texas Southern. The 2012–13 Texas Southern team went 20–12 and appeared in the 2013 Women's National Invitation Tournament.[15]

USC (2013–2017)

On April 11, 2013. Cooper returned to USC as head coach.[19] In her first season, Cooper-Dyke led USC to a 22–13 (11–7 Pac-12) season with an appearance in the 2014 NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament.[20] On March 3, 2017, Cooper-Dyke resigned as head coach at USC, following a 14–16 season in 2016–17 and 70–56 overall record.[21]

Second stint at Texas Southern (2019–2022)

In April 2019, she returned to coach at Texas Southern.[22] Texas Southern had a 20–10 record in her first season back but had two straight losing seasons afterwards at 5–10 and 11–15.[17] Cooper-Dyke retired on March 17, 2022.[23] She concluded her four seasons in two stints with a cumulative 56–47 record.[17]

The Athletic reported on May 5, 2022, that Texas Southern opened a Title IX investigation into Cooper-Dyke over accusations of sexual harassment and verbal abuse. A hearing had been scheduled for April 6 but was canceled due to Cooper-Dyke no longer being employed by the university. Additional allegations of similar misconduct were revealed from her previous coaching jobs at UNC Wilmington and USC.[24]

Halls of Fame

Cooper was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.[25] She was also announced as a member of the 2010 induction class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (the first WNBA player to be inducted), and was formally inducted on August 13 of that year.[26]

Personal life

Although born in Chicago, Illinois, Cooper-Dyke grew up in South Central Los Angeles, California. Cooper-Dyke is the daughter of Mary and Kenny Cooper. Her father left the family when she was only six years old, leaving her mother to raise eight children.[2] Cooper-Dyke attended the University of Southern California and played on their women's basketball team for four years, winning NCAA championships in 1983 and 1984 with star teammate Cheryl Miller, but left in 1986 before earning a degree. She played on international women's basketball teams in Spain and Italy for a decade before returning to the US to play for the Houston Comets. While abroad she learned to speak Italian fluently.[27]

In 2000, she published her autobiography, entitled She Got Game: My Personal Odyssey,[28] which covered her childhood, her basketball career up to that time, and her mother's battle with breast cancer.

Her first marriage was on July 30, 1993, to Anthony Stewart in San Antonio, Texas. On April 28, 2001, she was married to Brian Dyke.[29] She is a mother to twins[29] – a son, Brian Jr., and a daughter, Cyan, born June 15, 2002.

After a successful college and professional basketball career, won four WNBA Championships and induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, she turned to coaching. She began her coaching career in 2005 at Prairie View A&M University in Texas and guided the team to three SWAC Championships. While at the university, Cooper-Dyke turned student and coach and completed college requirements and earned a bachelor's degree in Health and Human Performance in 2010.

Head coaching record


Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Playoffs PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win–loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Phoenix 2001 32 13 19 .406 5th
Phoenix 2002 10 6 4 .600 (resigned)
Career 42 19 23 .452


Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Prairie View A&M Panthers (Southwestern Athletic Conference) (2005–2010)
2005–06 Prairie View A&M 7–21 6–12 T–8th
2006–07 Prairie View A&M 19–14 14–4 T–1st NCAA first round
2007–08 Prairie View A&M 22–12 15–3 1st WNIT First Round
2008–09 Prairie View A&M 23–11 17–1 1st NCAA first round
2009–10 Prairie View A&M 15–14 12–6 2nd WNIT First Round
Prairie View A&M: 86–72 (.544) 64–26 (.711)
UNC Wilmington Seahawks (Colonial Athletic Association) (2010–2012)
2010–11 UNC Wilmington 24–9 14–4 T–2nd WNIT Second Round
2011–12 UNC Wilmington 20–13 11–7 T–4th WNIT First Round
UNCW: 44–22 (.667) 25–11 (.694)
Texas Southern Tigers (Southwestern Athletic Conference) (2012–2013)
2012–13 Texas Southern 20–13 16–2 1st WNIT First Round
Texas Southern (first): 20–13 (.606) 16–2 (.889)
USC Trojans (Pac-12 Conference) (2013–2017)
2013–14 USC 22–13 11–7 T–4th NCAA first round
2014–15 USC 15–15 7–11 T–7th
2015–16 USC 19–13 6–12 8th
2016–17 USC 14–16 5–13 T–9th
USC: 70–57 (.551) 29–43 (.403)
Texas Southern Tigers (Southwestern Athletic Conference) (2019–2022)
2019–20 Texas Southern 20–10 14–4 2nd
2020–21 Texas Southern 5–10 4–8 7th
2021–22 Texas Southern 11–15 11–7 T–4th
Texas Southern (second): 36–45 (.444) 29–19 (.604)
Total: 256–198 (.564)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

Awards and achievements


  1. ^ "90. Cynthia Cooper, Basketball". Sports Illustrated for Women. Archived from the original on October 24, 2012. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Porter p. 88–89
  3. ^ Grundy p. 199–200
  4. ^ "Women's Basketball Finest" (PDF). Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  5. ^ "1981 WOMEN'S R. WILLIAM JONES CUP". USA Basketball. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
  6. ^ "First Women's Goodwill Games -- 1986". USA Basketball. June 10, 2010. Archived from the original on September 11, 2015. Retrieved October 20, 2015.
  7. ^ "Tenth World Championship For Women -- 1986". USA Basketball. August 14, 2013. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  8. ^ "Games of the XXIVth Olympiad -- 1988". USA Basketball. Archived from the original on September 14, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
  9. ^ "Games of the XXVth Olympiad -- 1992". USA Basketball. Archived from the original on April 24, 2012. Retrieved August 15, 2009.
  10. ^ "Houston Comets at Cleveland Rockers, June 21, 1997".
  11. ^ "Sportswoman of the Year Award". Women's Sports Foundation. Archived from the original on July 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
  12. ^ "COACHES – Cynthia Cooper". WNBA. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
  13. ^ "Houston Comets at Minnesota Lynx, June 1, 2003".
  14. ^ " AllStar 2011". Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  15. ^ a b c d "Cynthia Cooper-Dyke". Texas Southern University. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  16. ^ "Major Infractions Case". NCAA. January 8, 2008. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  17. ^ a b c "Cynthia Cooper-Dyke". NCAA. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  18. ^ "Cynthia Cooper-Dyke Leaves Prairie View for UNC-Wilmington". HBCU Digest. Archived from the original on May 14, 2010. Retrieved May 16, 2010.
  19. ^ Klein, Gary (April 12, 2013). "Cynthia Cooper-Dyke to coach USC women's basketball". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 13, 2013. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  20. ^ "2013-14 Women's Basketball Schedule". USC. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  21. ^ "Cynthia Cooper-Dyke resigns as USC women's basketball coach". Associated Press. March 3, 2017. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  22. ^ "Cynthia Cooper-Dyke to take the reins of TSU women's basketball". Texas Southern University Athletics. April 30, 2019. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  23. ^ "Women's Basketball Head Coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke Announces Her Retirement". Texas Southern University. March 17, 2022. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  24. ^ Perez, Daniela (May 5, 2022). "Players Accuse Cynthia Cooper-Dyke of Abusive Behavior, per Report". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  25. ^ "WBHOF Inductees". WBHOF. Archived from the original on December 6, 2017. Retrieved August 1, 2009.
  26. ^ "Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2010" (Press release). Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. April 5, 2010. Archived from the original on April 9, 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-05.
  27. ^ "SoCal Legends: Cynthia Cooper-Dyke". Los Angeles Sentinel. March 18, 2021. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  28. ^ "Q+A: Cynthia Cooper". SLAM. May 30, 2013. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  29. ^ a b "Cynthia Cooper-Dyke | Biography & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved May 30, 2021.