Women’s Basketball MVP: Veronica Burton

By Gavin Dorsey

Let’s be honest, was there ever really a question on who would be the Northwestern Women’s Basketball MVP? 

Veronica Burton didn’t just lead the team, she was the team. 

Burton started all 29 games as a senior in 2021-2022, leading Northwestern in minutes, points, made field goals and threes, free throws, assists and steals. Her prowess on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball became the engine that ran the Wildcats, helping to keep Northwestern in the running for the NCAA Tournament until the very end of the season.

After her sophomore and junior seasons in which she had a very solid supporting cast, Burton seemed to be the sole driving veteran presence left on a very young team. Coach Joe McKeown typically rolled out a starting lineup containing two or three first-years, and the growing pains of an inexperienced group didn’t exactly align with the timeline of a win-now player like Burton.

Nonetheless, Burton continued to put up heroic performances while stepping into the spotlight as the predominant leader of the team. To say she was the focal point of the offense is an understatement; in 2022, Burton either scored or assisted on nearly 50% of Northwestern’s made field goals. She was dominant all season with the ball in her hands, showing out with jaw-dropping nights like her 25/6/6 outing to upset Caitlin Clark and then No. 22 Iowa.

Her impact, however, wasn’t just on offense. In that same game against Iowa, Burton notched eight steals, which ended up being the difference-maker down the stretch. Even on days when she couldn’t get her shot going, like against Illinois, she was able to generate 14 assists and nine steals, helping propel her team to victory, despite only scoring 13 points. 

Burton’s defensive expertise was rewarded with her third straight Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award. She was also a finalist for the Naismith Trophy, after leading the country with over four steals per game, and was named a Third-Team All-American by the Associated Press.

What may have been most impressive about Burton’s historic season is just how much she put into each and every game. The star point guard played an average of 36.5 minutes per game, battling through bruises and hard fouls that left her body worn down. By the end of the season, she was playing all 40 minutes, because that’s what her team needed in order to win.

Burton was the heart and soul of Northwestern in 2022 and put everything on the line so that her team could succeed. Now, she brings that heart and drive to the WNBA, where she was drafted seventh overall by the Dallas Wings in April. Replacing the main leader of the Wildcats will be a mighty task for McKeown, but for Burton, her best days are yet to come.

Burton gets it done on both ends of the court against Iowa. (Credit: B1G Network)