Priscilla Gary Sweeney
Priscilla Gary Sweeney Born: October 25, 1961 (Jackson, MS)
Graduated: Hamilton (TN) High School, 1979; Kansas State University, 1983
The timing couldn’t have been better. Although Kansas State University had sponsored a women’s basketball team since 1968, a full four years before the passage of Title IX in 1972, it wasn’t until 1982 that the sport officially became sanctioned by the NCAA. That same year, the Wildcats welcomed a junior college transfer to campus and K-State women’s basketball would never be the same.
Born in Mississippi but raised in Memphis, Priscilla Gary Sweeney was a phenomenal athlete in both track and basketball in high school. Following graduation, Gary Sweeney chose to attend school at Shelby State College, now known as Southwest Tennessee Community College, to play basketball.
In the junior college ranks, Gary Sweeney earned All-American honors while setting the school’s all-time leading scoring mark. As of her induction to that school’s hall of fame in 2003, her scoring record still stood. Gary Sweeney was recruited to Manhattan and in her own words during her jersey retirement in 2009, she told then head coach Lynn Hickey, “put your running shoes on because ‘Sweet P’ is coming to town!”
Certainly Gary Sweeney had confidence but she could back it up. In her first season wearing the purple and white, Gary Sweeney led the Wildcats to the Big Eight women’s basketball conference tournament title in 1982.
After winning the conference tournament, K-State entered the first women’s NCAA tournament with an automatic bid into the thirty-two team field as the number four seed in the East Regional. The Wildcats dispatched Stephen F. Austin in the first round before setting up a second round match-up against regional top seed Old Dominion. Behind eighteen points by Gary Sweeney, the Wildcats beat Old Dominion to make the school’s first Elite Eight appearance before falling to eventual national runner-up.
For the season, Gary Sweeney averaged 18.2 points per contest with 83 assists. She was a first-team All-Big Eight Conference and Conference Tournament selection. Her first season saw her break nearly every school record for scoring and many of her single season records still rank among the best in school history.
For some athletes, following up a great season can be difficult. Whether it is living up to expectations that are too high or opposing teams adjusting to a player’s particular style, backing up a great performance is a challenge. Judging by the numbers put up by Gary Sweeney during her senior campaign, you wouldn’t be able to tell how hard it was.
As a senior, Gary Sweeney led the Wildcats to a sterling 25-7 record and a Big Eight regular season conference title. Gary once again averaged 18 points per game as a senior, was named first-team All-Big Eight in both the regular season and the conference tournament, and once again, led the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament and an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen. Gary Sweeney was recognized as one of the best players in the nation that year as she was a 1983 Wade Trophy finalist and was named the school’s first female basketball player to earn first-team All-American honors.
For her career, Gary Sweeney scored 1,169 points, which still ranks in the top 25 in school history despite playing just two seasons in Manhattan and without the use of the three point line.
In 1998, Gary Sweeney’s contributions to the Kansas State University Athletics were honored as she became the first female athlete to be inducted to the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame. In 2009, her #10 jersey was retired by the school.
Safe to say, many fans and supporters of the purple and white are very happy that “Sweet P” came to town.