Believe it or not, we’re just about a month away from basketball season. That’s right, both men’s and women’s basketball games are right around the corner. To kick off our coverage of the 2021-22 coverage of the women’s team, we will preview each player on Northwestern’s roster. Up next is guard Courtney Shaw, a senior center out of Perry Hall, Md.
Who she is
Senior; center; 6-foot-0, Perry Hall, Md.; ranked in the top 25 at her position when coming to Northwestern out of high school; her uncle, Stafford Gatson, played defensive tackle at Northwestern; was teammates with current Wildcat Sydney Wood in high school.
25.2 minutes per game; 7.4 points per game; 0.9 assists per game; 6.3 rebounds per game; 1.1 steals per game, 0.8 blocks per game, 53.6 FG%; N/A 3P% (no 3PAs); 36.6 FT%.
Shaw was given the unenviable task of filling in for the front court tandem of Abbie Wolf — a rock solid center who is now balling out in Spain — and Abi Scheid — who casually decided to become the best three-point shooter in the country during her senior campaign in Evanston. Left to fill the shoes of Wolf and Scheid, Shaw accomplished the task while failing to replicate the play style of either. Standing at six feet tall, she’s shorter than both of her predecessors, but her tenacity allowed her to nearly match Wolf’s team-leading rebound per game total of 6.6, while also shooting for a higher percentage from the field than either.
Unfortunately, a lower-body injury kept Wood out for five weeks during the brunt of NU’s conference schedule. She was able to return for both of the postseason tournaments the Wildcats competed in, though, and was a significant contributor, recording 34 points and 22 rebounds across five tournament contests.
When healthy, Courtney Shaw is a force in the post for the Wildcats, especially on defense, where her rim protection skills led to lineups featuring her allowing only 84.2 points per 100 possessions according to Her Hoop Stats, good for an 88th percentile mark nationwide. There was also no better ‘Cat on the boards than Shaw, who led the team last season with 6.3 rebounds a game.
As a scorer, Shaw’s game complimented that of the Lindsey Pulliam-Jordan Hamilton-Veronica Burton backcourt well, providing an established and reliable shooter in the paint. While still down significantly from her 2019-20 mark of 62.8 percent, her 2020-21 field goal percentage of 53.6 led the team. All and all, her height, hunger and physicality down low provides a valuable asset that few others on the Northwestern roster can muster.
The biggest blight on Shaw’s record thus far in her college career has been her free throw shooting. A player as ferocious in the post as she is bound to draw some fouls, but when sent to the line in 2020-21, Shaw made just 36.6 percent of her attempts, a bottom 1 percentile mark in the country. If she wants to prevent opposing defenses from adopting a “Hack-a-Shaw” approach late in games, the Maryland native will have to show some improvement from the charity stripe. She also lacks any ability from deep, as shown by the fact that she’s yet to attempt a single three-pointer in her time at NU.
Now in her senior year, Shaw will be a regular member of Northwestern’s starting five so long as she is healthy. Without the backcourt presences of Pulliam and Hamilton, NU will likely shift more of its offensive focus to Shaw and other post-heavy shooters, which should provide her the opportunity to use her high-efficacy close-range shooting skills more frequently. She should continue to be Northwestern’s main line of defense behind Burton as a fierce rim protector. You can also expect her to continue wracking up boards for the ‘Cats, something she’s shown herself quite capable of throughout her first season playing major time for the Wildcats last year. Should she stay healthy, Shaw has a chance in 2021-22 to capitalize on the departure of several on-the-floor leaders and become a more prominent player than she has been at any point in her college career.