After Veronica Burton was drafted seventh overall by the Wings last Monday in New York, she returned to the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, Ill., to say her goodbyes. As the point guard relived her draft night, sharing the experience with her teammates, she couldn’t help but think about the time in the gym she’d missed.

“It’s been three days, and we have training camp coming up,” Burton said last Thursday. “I want to do everything in my control before training camp starts, and I have to be where I have to be.”

That work ethic and mindset of never being satisfied is what landed Burton in the WNBA and a roster spot for training camp, which began Sunday. After a successful college career, the three-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year will join a young Wings core that appears to be continuing its upward trend after making the playoffs last season for the first time in three years.

The Massachusetts native credits her work ethic to her family. His mother, father, grandfather and three uncles all played sports at Northwestern. Her brother and two sisters also played Division I sports. So when her parents woke her up at 5 a.m. every day before school to get vaccinated, it was nothing out of the ordinary.

Dallas Wings first draft pick Veronica Burton smiles as she speaks during a team rally during training camp Monday, April 18, 2022 at the University of Texas Mavericks Activity Center in Arlington to Arlington.(Shafkat Anowar / personal photographer)

“They showed me what it takes to take it to the next level, and then it was up to me whether or not I wanted to spend time on it,” she said.

But when Burton’s college recruiting process began, his confidence took a hit. She wasn’t getting many looks, especially from the Power Five programs, so her parents had to beg the head coach and athletic director at their alma mater to give her a chance.

“Anything they could do to get them to come watch a game, they were going to do it,” Burton said. “As you can see, it worked.”

During her early years at Northwestern, she was also underestimated. She cemented her role in the starting lineup with steals and assists, leading the team in both cases in her debut season, but was somewhat overshadowed by her veteran teammates and opponents. During those early years, she never saw the WNBA as her final destination, but her tremendous growth in such a short time allowed her to set new goals.

“I just saw myself getting better and better,” she said. “Once I realized that I really belong, and that I can reach new potential, that’s when I set the WNBA goal, and that’s when I realized that I wasn’t ready to be done with basketball.”

Year after year the older players moved on and Burton needed to step up.

“She rose to the occasion every time,” said North West center Courtney Shaw. “She makes you want to play better.”

While maintaining their defensive dominance, “The Backcourt Burglar” has also developed their attacking game. In her sophomore season, she helped her team win their first Big Ten title in 30 years and was named the conference’s top defensive player. She swept that award for the rest of her career, adding an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2021, third-team AP All-American selection and the WBCA National Defensive Player of the Year award to her resume. As a senior, she averaged 17.8 points, 6.4 assists, 5.5 rebounds and a national record four steals per game.

Dallas Wings first draft pick Veronica Burton watches the play during a practice at training camp...
Dallas Wings first draft pick Veronica Burton watches the game during a training camp practice Monday, April 18, 2022 at the Mavericks Activity Center at the University of Texas at Arlington in Arlington. (Shafkat Anowar / personal photographer)

Through it all, she remained grounded.

“It’s not that she doesn’t think highly of herself or that she doesn’t have confidence,” Shaw said. “You can see she does it when she plays. But her ability to think less about herself honestly helps her more in the end. She thinks she has to do a lot more than the next person.

For the Wings, the humility Burton displayed was something they were eager to find.

“What we wanted to make sure was we got someone who fit our culture,” Wings head coach Vickie Johnson said. “Character is the most important thing as we are building something special here for years to come.”

As her character served their needs, so did she, as the Wings emerged from their rebuilding period and moved on to the next chapter. Johnson said they would continue to focus on their defense in which Burton would be a key contributor.

Burton said she was ready to go back to her roots and be a strong defensive presence. She will use this aspect of her game to stand out among a backcourt with established talents like Arike Ogunbowale, Marina Mabrey, Moriah Jefferson, Allisha Gray and Tyasha Harris. If she can earn her spot through defense, she then plans to complement her teammates offensively wherever needed.

“Dallas gets a heady playmaker with tremendous instincts and the ability to make an impact at both ends of the court,” former Northwestern assistant coach Kate Popovec said in a text. “She will do whatever it takes to win and will never stop competing.”

While Burton has grown to become a nationally recognized star during her four years at Northwestern, she has yet to prove herself in Dallas – a city she had never been to before moving Thursday. Training camp will say where she goes, but if it’s like her time in college, her game will speak loud enough.

“She’s been in these situations where she’s maybe not the biggest name, but her work and her impact on game shows for itself,” Shaw said.

Dallas Wings first draft pick Veronica Burton smiles as she speaks during a team rally during...

1/12Dallas Wings first draft pick Veronica Burton smiles as she speaks during a team rally during training camp Monday, April 18, 2022 at the University of Texas Mavericks Activity Center in Arlington to Arlington.(Shafkat Anowar / personal photographer)

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Northwestern's Veronica Burton poses for a photo before the WNBA basketball draft on Monday...

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