This year’s Northwestern women’s basketball senior class is one to remember. Without these four players, neither the Wildcats’ first Big Ten regular season championship in program history nor their 2021 NCAA Tournament appearance, which yielded their first win in the Big Dance since 1993, would have been possible. A collective 78-38 in their four years playing together, Joe McKeown’s 2022 class is one that has changed the course of Wildcat women’s basketball for good. Here is a look back at the careers of each one:
It’s hard to know where to even begin with Burton. Few players in the history of Northwestern Athletics have had as substantial an effect on their program as Veronica Burton has had on the school’s women’s basketball team. Though there is no doubt she will move on to bigger and better things, Burton’s likely final appearance at Welsh-Ryan this Thursday will be a bittersweet farewell, as coaches, teammates and spectators alike bask in her greatness one final time in Evanston.
Over her career as a Wildcat, Burton has started 110 of 111 games she’s played in. A consistent facet of McKeown’s lineup since her arrival at Northwestern in 2018, the Newton, Mass., native has made her defensive presence known at all times. Dubbed the “Backcourt Burglar” for good reason, Burton earned back-to-back B1G Defensive Player of the Year awards her sophomore and junior seasons. She finished the season leading the conference in steals in each of the last three years, and will make it four years running at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season. Even better, her junior year she had the most steals in the entire country — a title she is on her way to claiming for the second year in a row.
Along with her defensive accolades, Burton has made tremendous strides as a scorer and facilitator. At Northwestern, she has more than doubled her average offensive stat-line from freshman year, going from 8.6 points per game to 17.8 points now. Burton has always been a reliable distributor out of the backcourt — she has finished each season ninth in the conference in assists per game or better — and sits currently at seventh in the nation with 6.6. To shine a light on just how dominant of a ball controller she’s been in her season season: Burton is currently the only Division I college basketball player in the nation, men’s or women’s, with over 100 steals and 150 assists. Ridiculous stuff.
It goes without saying that Burton is leaving this program better off than she found it. She has earned more accolades and honors than we have space to name on this page, but above all, she has remained humble, worked incredibly hard and exemplified a level of leadership few others possess. It has been an undeniable privilege to be able to admire her greatness throughout the past four years, and while Wildcat fans are sad to see her go, Burton’s legacy will never be forgotten. Her impact on Northwestern basketball will last for generations to come.
There have been few players better in the paint than Courtney Shaw in the Big Ten this year, but it hasn’t always been that way. Earning her spot in the starting lineup last year after two seasons as a member of McKeown’s bench, Shaw has transformed into an essential piece for Northwestern. Though an injury-plagued junior year limited her impact in her first year as a starter, she emerged stronger than ever as one of the best rebounders in the conference. Oh, and she can score, too.
Shaw’s growth from her freshman season is truly admirable. In 2018, the forward only made an appearance in seven Wildcat basketball games, a stark difference from the past two years where she has started in almost five times as many. She’s also notched six double-doubles this year, whereas she only collected a pair of double-digit performances in her first two years combined.
The Maryland native’s influence on both ends of the court is now on the radar of every coach in the conference. She is third in the Big Ten in rebounds this year, averaging 9.9 per game, and is top 10 in the country in terms of offensive boards collected. And for a player in a position so often called for fouls, Shaw plays remarkably clean under pressure and attacks her role with controlled determination.
With young players in the mix like Paige Mott and Caileigh Walsh, Shaw is the ideal role model to help continue building a legacy of strong bigs that dominate the paint at Welsh-Ryan and beyond. The senior’s aggressive yet poised play will be sorely missed, but her influence will be enjoyed through the play of those who grew and learned under her watch.
Though we are writing this on a whim with fingers-crossed we might be able to write it again next year, Sydney Wood’s career to date has been nothing short of impressive. Partnering with Burton in the backcourt for the majority of her time at Northwestern, Wood is a defensive machine as well. Injuries have prevented her from reclaiming her spot in McKeown’s starting five for the majority of her senior year, but Wood has experience leading off the court as much as she does on it.
Wood garnered significant minutes her freshman and sophomore years, most importantly working her way into the 2020 regular season championship team’s starting lineup and contributing handily to Northwestern’s success pre-pandemic. That year, she was named a member of the All-Big Ten Defensive Team and has since earned two All-Big Ten honorable mentions. In her last full season, Wood boasted a healthy stat-line of 10.8 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game and 2.6 steals per game.
What cannot be conveyed through statistics, however, is Wood’s basketball IQ. As nearly every one of her teammates mentioned in this video honoring the senior, her knowledge of basketball is through the roof. While off the court this year, Wood has spent her time coaching her younger teammates and passing along her tricks-of-the-trade. She has been present on the bench, engaged and vocal, for every game since her injury—a testament to her devotion to both her teammates and the game of basketball.
While one can only hope she returns for a final run, it’s evident that Wood has cemented herself as a leader and source of wisdom for those around her, and her value in the locker room is appreciated as much as, if not more than, her ability on the court.
The lone graduate student of the bunch, it’s a good thing Lauryn Satterwhite came back for another go-around, because she has been essential in her final season as a Wildcat. Though she missed her freshman season with a lower-body injury, the Arizona native has slowly transformed from a consistent bench player to a reliable starter in McKeown’s rotation. Satterwhite is best recognized by fans for her abundant energy and relentless play, both of which helped to earned her the title of team captain her final year.
Satterwhite has doubled her playing time every year since the 2019-2020 season, jumping from 5.3 minutes per game as a bench asset to over 20 minutes per game as a starter. Her most improved stat by far has been her three-point shooting, where she boasts one of the higher percentages on the team currently with a 34.7 percent mark. She has always shot with confidence from beyond the arc, but it’s clear how much work she’s put in to become more accurate — Satterwhite notched a career high four made threes against Indiana recently in one of the best performances in her time at Northwestern.
Other than her clear abilities on the court, Satterwhite brings to the table a level of commitment and dedication to fight for her teammates that is rare to come by. She’s a coach’s dream — a player with a high basketball IQ and a player who you can rely on to give 100 percent effort every time she steps onto the court. Satterwhite has been a positive example for everyone around her, and Welsh-Ryan certainly won’t be the same without her energy next year.
Being the sole international player on a college basketball team during a pandemic is not easy, but Australian COVID protocols were no match for senior Jess Sancataldo. Unfortunately missing the 2020-2021 season due to overseas regulations, the Aussie spent her time coaching youth leagues and furthering the game of basketball in her home country. Sancataldo also dealt with a fair share of injuries her sophomore season which limited her playing time after her freshman year, where she appeared in 19 games. Despite personal struggles, she has always maintained a positive attitude and stayed connected with her teammates, both in Evanston and from across the pond.
Sancataldo is the poster child for perseverance, and though she hasn’t appeared much on the court this season, you can always find her on the bench with a smile on her face. She has not spoken about future plans just yet, but here’s to hoping we see her again in the purple and white, as a player or maybe even (fingers crossed!) as a coach.