We are less than three weeks away from the Northwestern women’s basketball returning. Today we preview Hailey Weaver, a two-way guard who will be spending a lot more time on the court this year.
Who she is
Junior; guard; 5-foot-11; from Solon, Ohio
28 games; 10.78 minutes per game; 3.0 points per game; 1.4 rebounds per game; 0.6 assists per game; 34.9 FG%; 25.0 3PT%; 63.6 FT%
Weaver did not have consistent playing time last season, only garnering 302 minutes over 28 games. As a freshman, she played just six games for a grand total of 21 minutes, so the sophomore season brought a clear learning curve for the guard to find her place with more appearances but not a lot of time.
Towards the back end of the season, Weaver got longer outings. She played under eight minutes in each of her first six games but hit a then career-high of 11 minutes against Duke on Dec. 1. Across her last 13 games, she played at least 15 minutes in nine of them, including the last two games of over 20.
With the increase in playing time, the Ohio native definitely saw improvement. Weaver didn’t attempt a three-pointer until six games in on the season, and in her first 20 attempts, she made just three. Throughout February, however, she attempted the remaining 16 of her 36 total tries for six baskets.
One of the most notable aspects of Weaver’s play is her defense. Her small four minutes of play against Oregon in the season opener was all it took for her to record a steal. She recorded at least one in 14 of the games she played for 33 total, placing her third on the team behind Sydney Wood and Kaylah Rainey. She ended the season on an impressive streak recording six, one, three and four steals in the last four games. Against Minnesota, where she hit her career high with six, she also sunk three baskets and recorded two rebounds for the ‘Cats.
Weaver will likely become one of the more prominent two-way guards for the ‘Cats in the subsequent seasons.
The sophomore showed talent when it came to three-pointers as the season went on, and had she maintained her three-point percentage from the last month of the season, she would have led her team in that category. Along those same lines of offensive improvement, Weaver became a better passer as the season went on. Seven of her 18 total assists came over just the course of the last four games. As she develops this skill, Weaver may be a skilled assister.
Aside from excelling on steals, she also displayed a knack for grabbing rebounds. She had 10 defensive and 29 offensive rebounds in total, which contributed to 12 multi-rebound games. For a player who played a handful of minutes here and there, her rebounding potential is certainly an advantage.
Weaver lacked consistency, but that’s difficult given she saw the court for less than 10 minutes in half of her games. Toward the end of the season, Weaver proved she could record baskets and plenty of steals, and if she had increased playing time earlier on, then her totals could have been significantly higher.
With the opportunity to be a starter, Weaver will likely be able to develop more on offense. Of the nine players who appeared in at least 27 games last year, Weaver ranked sixth with a 34.9 FG%. She made just a third of her shots within the paint over November and December. From February to the end of the season, she attempted more shots but didn’t drastically improve her shooting percentage, going 15-of-44.
This upcoming season won’t post the same problem for Weaver as her underclassmen ones; she should see significantly more minutes in each game. She has the potential to grow into a valuable two-way guard and can likely find herself in a starting position at the start of the season or soon after.
To fairly assess what’s in store for Weaver, her last four games of the 2023-24 season speak to the player she can be. She averaged nearly 19 minutes in each and was able to record eight baskets from within the paint and two from outside, 14 steals and nine boards.