Veronica Burton

Veronica Burton’s Next Move: The WNBA 

Veronica Burton (BS22) might be one of Northwestern’s greatest-ever players “in any sport,” according to women’s basketball coach Joe McKeown.
But what Coach McKeown will remember most about his steady and stealthy All-American point guard is that she would do anything for the team. “She never had a day where she put herself ahead of the program,” he told the Chicago Tribune.

Burton, who was drafted by the WNBA’s Dallas Wings in the first round (seventh overall), is a third-generation Wildcat. Her father, Steve (SoC85, Medill88), and grandfather Ron (BS60) played football for Northwestern; her mother, Ginni (SoC85), was an All-American swimmer. But the mark Veronica has made is entirely her own.

She leaves Northwestern as one of the most distinguished players in program history and the program’s first-ever All- American. A quiet leader, she helped the Wildcats win their first NCAA Tournament game in 28 years in 2021 and a Big Ten title in 2020. The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association named her the 2022 NCAA Division I Defensive Player of the Year, and she earned three consecutive Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Burton, who was selected by the Dallas Wings during the WNBA draft in New York City, was given 48 hours to report to Arlington, Texas. “She used that time to fly to Chicago and deliver hand-written thank you notes to the entire athletic department at Northwestern,” the Daily Northwestern reported.

How she leads

She’s known for three things: consistency, reliability, and a legendarily strong work ethic. Coaches have had to insist that she take breaks. “I like to see myself as someone whom my teammates and coaches can count on,” she says. “I’m not going to tell someone to do something I’m not willing to do myself.”

Coming out of nowhere

Burton’s athleticism, anticipation, and instincts set her apart. She is also a dedicated student of the game. Her playbook includes learning hand-eye coordination exercises (yes, she juggles) and watching films of or reading about opponents. As youngster, she’d study films of her older sisters Kendall and Kayla’s high school games. “I like to read people’s eyes,” she says. “They’re most likely to pass where they’re looking.” Burton, who finished her career second in steals in program history with 394, creates opportunities by baiting unsuspecting opponents into making passes, then . . . you already know what happens.
One class she loved

Burton particularly enjoyed Studies in Organizational Change (LOC306) with Mindy Douthit. The class studies how organizations balance the need for stability with the ability to adapt and change.

“We studied culture, leadership, and roles of teams,” Burton says. “I applied the class concepts to my everyday life.” Her team, of course, was her organization. She assumed the role of leader both on and off the court and helped foster a team culture that emphasized hard work, accountability, and trust.

“Teamwork always extended off the court because it was especially important to build team chemistry and trust, she says. “This often took place through team dinners, game nights, or movie nights. We were always working together to build our success on the court and off.  

On her lockscreen
“I’ve got Philippians 4:6–7: ‘Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything,’” she says. “I read that before I go to bed every night. I like to have that as a constant reminder.”
Her own legacy
Burton isn’t feigning modesty when she downplays her accomplishments. “I care more about how people see me as a person than as a basketball player,” she says. “I don’t care too much about the accolades, the stats. My character, my faith, my family—those priorities come first.”