Inducted February 6, 1999
Jerry Kirksey was a regular for most of his three seasons playing for the SMS basketball Bears of coach Eddie Matthews from 1958 to 1961, and Kirksey played on one of the most successful teams in SMS history. His SMS playing career covered 66 games and Kirksey just missed reaching the 1,000-point plateau for his playing career, finishing with 973 points to rank as the fourth best all-time scorer in SMS history at the end of his playing days in 1961. A native of Buffalo, Mo., Kirksey came to SMS as a transfer from the University of Missouri at the start of his sophomore season. He was a regular in the backcourt during the Bears’ 1958-59 season as SMS raced out to a 12-0 start and won the MIAA title with an 8-2 league record. In just its third year in the NCAA College Division, SMS was picked to host an NCAA regional tournament, but Kirksey was unable to play in the postseason event due to his transfer status because of eligibility rules in place at that time. SMS defeated Abilene Christian and Centenary in the NCAA Regional in McDonald Arena to earn the right to play in the national quarterfinals in Evansville, Ind. The Bears slipped past Hope College in the quarterfinals and defeated Los Angeles State in the semifinals before losing to host Evansville in the national championship game to finish with a 23-3 season record. Kirksey was fourth on the team in scoring with 11.5 points a game. As a junior in 1959-60, He helped the Bears to a 14-9 record and a second place finish in the MIAA at 7-3. He was second in scoring on that ballclub at 14.9 points a game. Kirksey was an SMS co-captain as a senior in 1960-61 as the Bears gained a tie for the runner-up spot in the MIAA standings on their way to an overall mark of 10-13. Kirksey was the team’s leading scorer with a 17.7 average. Kirksey was selected to the MIAA tournament all-tourney team as both a junior and senior and was a member of SMS teams which established the school’s all-time record homecourt winning streak of 41 games from 1956 through 1960. Kirksey followed his SMS playing days with a long and successful career in the coaching ranks at Missouri-Rolla, Drury, Henderson State and Southwest Baptist.