Women’s Basketball Position Previews: Ball Handlers

By Jacob Brown

One of Northwestern’s largest competitive advantages in the Big Ten this year will be its depth. Joe McKeown likes his teams to run, using his players’ elite athleticism to make things hard for opponents in transition. Naturally, this will tire both sides out, but whereas other squads may not have the necessary depth to give their starters a breather, Northwestern more than does.

One of the ‘Cats’ largest areas of depth is in the ball handler role. Veronica Burton has served as Northwestern’s primary ball handler for the last three seasons, and will likely continue to do so this year. But with the emphasis opposing teams will put on containing her, plus her ability to hit catch and shoot threes, Northwestern’s plethora of talent with the ability to run the offense with through ball handlers will be crucial. 

The success of Lauryn Satterwhite, Kaylah Rainey, Melannie Daley and Hailey Weaver with the ball in their hands will be critical for the Northwestern offense, as it will determine the extent to which Joe McKeown can vary his offense throughout the season. 

Here’s a quick rundown on each player and what type of role they might play this year:

1 Kaylah Rainey


5’6 Guard

Belleville, Illinois

2020-21 Facts and Stats:

  • 4.8 Minutes Per Game
  • 1.4 Points Per Game
  • 37% Shooting 
  • 56% FT


Rainey struggled to earn significant playing time last season, finding herself behind Burton, Hamilton, Pulliam and Satterwhite in the rotation. McKeown tends to play his starters a significant portion of the game, another factor that limited the speedy point guard’s minutes. With the departures of Pulliam and Hamilton, Rainey should have a chance to earn a larger spot in the rotation, but she will have to compete against Jess Sancataldo, Jillian Brown, Mel Daley and Hailey Weaver for minutes. 

2 Lauryn Satterwhite

Graduate Student

5’7 Guard

Avondale, Arizona

2020-21 Facts and Stats:

  • 11 Minutes Per Game
  • 2.7 Points Per Game
  • 31% Shooting 
  • 61.5% FT
  • 30% 3 Point


Northwestern’s most senior player can do a bit of everything. She knows the Blizzard, she’s a good distributor, and she has the speed to help the ‘Cats push the pace. With that said, she’s not a great shooter, and she doesn’t necessarily fill any of the team’s needs. That will give McKeown an interesting decision in terms of lineups. There is value to having a veteran presence on the bench to help lead the second unit. On the other side, Satterwhite’s ability to serve as the primary ballhandler could let the ‘Cats run offensive schemes with Burton off-ball. Regardless, the graduate guard gives McKeown a plethora of options in terms of lineups, which is never a bad thing. 

11 Hailey Weaver


5’11 Guard

Solon, Ohio

2021 Facts and Stats:

  • No. 35 recruit in the nation
  • Chose Northwestern over Michigan, Marquette, Kentucky and more
  • 2021 Jersey Mike’s Naismith National High School Girls Trophy Watch List


Weaver’s athleticism is her greatest asset, and it allows her to excel in a multitude of ways. She rebounds and defends incredibly well for her size due to her spring, and when combined with her exceptional speed, she’s a versatile threat in transition. Her ability to pull up in the midrange forces defenders to play her tight, which creates opportunities for her to blow by them with her speed. She’s an all-around offensive weapon, which could very well earn her some minutes. But with that said, there’s a ton of guard depth on this roster. It’s going to be really hard for her to get significant playing time behind all of the talents in front of her. 

12 Veronica Burton


5’9 Guard

Newton, Massachusetts

2021 Facts and Stats:

  • Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year
  • Selected to the All-Big Ten First Team by coaches and media
  • Lead the nation in total steals with 96 and steals per game with 3.84
  • 16.2 Points Per Game
  • 40% Shooting 
  • 79.5% FT
  • 4.9 Assists Per Game
  • 5.2 Rebounds Per Game


The Backcourt Burglar is one of the best players in the country, and people are starting to notice. After an elite 2021 campaign earned her All-Big Ten First Team recognition, Burton spent the summer as a member of the 2021 USA Women’s AmeriCup Team. Burton was already a leader on the team, but with the graduation of Lindsey Pulliam, she is now the squad’s true alpha. She will be the centerpiece for the ‘Cats on both sides of the floor. Defensively, NU will rely on her quick hands and recovery speed to keep opponents uneasy against the Blizzard. Offensively, Northwestern will likely run everything through her, as she has the ability to blow by her defender, finish at the hoop, distribute the ball, shoot the three and score at the line, and is arguably the team’s best player in each of those regards. 

In many ways, Northwestern will go as far as Burton can take it. But she has significant stakes beyond the ‘Cats’ season. Burton looks to be the second Wildcat drafted in the last two years, and the first one to go in the first round since Nia Coffey was selected fifth overall in 2017. Burton has dozens of tricks in her bag. One that could draw some eyes: Burton could feasibly record the seventh quadruple-double in NCAA history, as she could realistically finish a game with over 10 points, steals, rebounds and assists.

21 Melannie Daley


5’11 Guard

Hastings, New York

2021 Facts and Stats:

  • Chose NU over Villanova, Boston College, Kansas State and more
  • McDonald’s All-American nominee
  • Scored over 1300 points in her high school career


Daley will likely be a great change of pace guard for the ‘Cats. She’s a high-energy, low mistake player, the type that thrives at Northwestern. Her game is modeled around the midrange shot, and given her explosiveness, she provides a dynamic scoring presence from the point guard positions. With that said, she finds herself behind the older ballhandlers, such as Burton, Rainey and Satterwhite. Don’t be shocked if Daley uses a redshirt this season.