BREAKING: Burton drafted seventh by the Dallas Wings
By Logan Schiciano and Ashley Tumpowsky
Former Northwestern point guard Veronica Burton was drafted by the Dallas Wings with the seventh overall pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft tonight.
“It’s a surreal moment,” Burton said in her press conference after being drafted. “These are the moments that you dream about. I think to just kind of see the hard work finally really pay off, it was just an unmatched feeling.”
Burton joins a Wings squad that finished with a 14-18 record in 2021 – seventh in WNBA. Dallas lost in the first round of the playoffs to the eventual champion Chicago Sky.
The Wings already have a talented backcourt, which includes former Notre Dame standout Arike Ogunbowale, who averaged a team-high 18.7 points per game last year.
“I’m excited to play with them,” Burton said. “I’m about to go study all their games tonight even more and just learn where they want the ball, too. Where they want it is where I’ll give it to them.”
Dubbed “one of Northwestern’s greatest players ever – in any sport” by Head Coach Joe McKeown, Burton finished her Wildcat career with 394 steals, good for second-all time in program history and third all-time in Big Ten history. She was also three-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, one of only two players in conference history to accomplish that feat.
After the ‘Cats missed out on March Madness this year, Burton declared for the draft on March 25.
“My time at Northwestern exceeded every expectation of what I wanted my college basketball experience to be like,” Burton said in her announcement on social media. “I am forever proud to call myself a Northwestern Wildcat.”
The Newton, Massachusetts native is the second Northwestern player in as many years to be drafted to the WNBA and the fourth Wildcat ever to make it to the league. Last year, Lindsey Pulliam was drafted No. 27 overall by the Atlanta Dream but was waived shortly after. She turned to international leagues, spending her first professional season with the Elazığ İl Özel İdaresi Spor Kulübü, a Turkish women’s basketball club.
Burton’s best season was her last, where she averaged 17.8 points per game, 5.5 rebounds and 6.4 assists.
She earned the nickname of the “Backcourt Burglar,” averaging a nation’s best 4.0 steals per game in her final season.
While the statistical accolades speak for themselves, Burton also developed a reputation for being the team’s hardest worker, a role model for younger players and impacting the Northwestern community on and off the floor.
“What she doesn’t realize is that she literally impacts everyone in our program. Whether it’s me, whether it’s her teammates, whether it’s our student managers. Every single person in our program is touched by her influence,” former assistant coach Kate Popevoc told WNUR Sports last year.
The biggest lesson Burton learned at Northwestern was humility, she told WNUR Sports in the press conference.
“I think at a school like Northwestern, it’s hard to get respect there. It’s hard to be seen as a top program,” she said. “But I think that humility really just allowed me to kind of be more motivated and drive me more. We love that underdog mindset over there, and that’s honestly what I carried through.”
In her tenure at Northwestern, Burton led the women’s basketball program to new heights, including a first round win over UCF in last year’s NCAA Tournament – the team’s first NCAA Tournament victory in 28 years. Northwestern also reached the WNIT Finals in Burton’s freshman campaign and finished the 2019-2020 season as co-champions of the Big Ten.
“She never had a bad night. We played 29, 30 games. She never had a bad day. It’s amazing,” reflected head coach Joe McKeown after their loss to Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament, “She just made everybody better.”
Most WNBA mock drafts did not have Burton going as high as seventh. ESPN’s latest projection had her as the No. 13 overall pick to the Las Vegas Aces, while CBS Sports projected Burton would be drafted twelfth by the Connecticut Sun – the final pick of the first round.
The Dallas Wings assured Northwestern fans on Twitter after the pick went live, “We’ll take care of her, don’t worry.”