June 28, 2024 

Veronica Burton has found the perfect home in Connecticut

An impactful defender, Burton has already contributed to winning

After two years playing in Dallas, third-year point guard Veronica Burton learned she was waived. But, another opportunity came her way shortly after, landing her close to home and at an organization that values defense just as much as she does. 

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“It’s definitely tough,” said Burton of getting waived from the organization that drafted her. “It’s just difficult from a mental standpoint, from a basketball standpoint – from everything.”

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Burton had close relationships with her Wings teammates and had carved out a reliable bench role, averaging 14.5 minutes per night in her first two seasons. 

“You build such strong relationships and strong connections with your teammates and the staff,” Burton said. “I’m really grateful for the fans as well in Dallas. It happens quickly, but at the end of the day, that’s kind of a part of this league. It’s unfortunate, but it happens.”

Fortunately for Burton, shortly after she was waived, she got a call from her agent and learned that the Connecticut Sun wanted her in Uncasville. Sun point guard Moriah Jefferson was battling injuries and was slated for ankle surgery, and Connecticut was searching for a defensive-minded point guard who could come off the bench to run the offense and hit open shots.

Veronica Burton, newly on the market, perfectly fit the bill. 

Veronica Burton has long been known for her defense

In college, at Northwestern University, Burton had established herself as one of the nation’s premier guard defenders. She was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year three years in a row, and in her senior season, she was awarded the WBCA Defensive Player of the Year, a prestigious honor given to the best defensive player in Division I college basketball. She finished her college career with 394 steals — the third-most in Big Ten history — and thrived as one of the league’s most effective defenders. 

“The defensive end is something that Connecticut really prioritizes, and that’s something that I’ve obviously kind of taken a lot of pride in over the course of my career,” Burton said. “So that’s something that I look to bring every day.”

Veronica Burton in a defensive position guarding Fever guard Erica Wheeler
Connecticut Sun guard Veronica Burton (22) defends the inbound pass during the WNBA game between the Indiana Fever and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on June 10, 2024. (Photo Credit: Chris Poss | The Next)

Burton played limited minutes in her first seven games with the Sun, but was instrumental in Thursday’s night’s overtime win over the Mystics, playing 22 minutes and finishing with 9 points, five assists and two steals — all season highs. 

Her defense was instrumental throughout the night, and her performance was highlighted by her drawing an offensive foul on the Mystics’ Julie Vanloo with one second in regulation. Connecticut beat Washington 94-91 in overtime. 

​​”She was great,” Sun head coach Stephanie White said postgame. “Her activity level, her discipline at the point of screens, her ability to be active and get deflections that led to steals, to make big plays, to be in the right rotation.”

Postgame, Ty Harris was asked about Burton’s big defensive play in the final seconds, and interrupted to exclaim, “The entire game!” 

Ty Harris and Veronica Burton were previously teammates in Dallas, which has helped make Burton’s already-seamless transition to Connecticut even easier. It also helps that she’s from Newton, Massachusetts — only an hour and a half drive to Uncasville, Connecticut. 

“She’s just tenacious on defense,” Harris said of Burton. “She’s actually more aggressive now.” 

So, while Burton’s long been an elite defender, Connecticut’s emphasis on defense only empowers her to lean into her strengths even more.

“Knowing what Connecticut basketball is about, they take pride on that end,” Burton said. “It’s kind of easy to step up to the plate when they hold that standard. So, I’m just kind of following their lead and doing whatever I can to be that aggressive.” 

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The cultural transition to the Sun organization has been smooth

Veronica Burton credits her teammates and the staff for prioritizing her acclimation. 

“That’s just kind of a testament to my teammates and coaches here,” she said. “Just kind of welcoming me in and honestly helping me in any way that I can, helping me get comfortable, both on the court and off. That’s all I can ask for.”

Stephanie White loves what she’s seen from Burton so far, both on the court and in the locker room.  

“She’s a great teammate — she’s someone who comes in and is a terrific locker room person,” White said. “She’s high energy, high IQ, she’s a hard worker. You can tell her something once, and she gets it.”

Prior to Thursday, Burton hadn’t played more than seven minutes in a single game since joining Connecticut. But, she’s impacted the game every time she’s checked in.

“She’s been ready every time her number has been called,” White said. 

Veronica Burton looks up towards the basket during a game
Connecticut Sun guard Veronica Burton (22) during the WNBA game between the Indiana Fever and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on June 10, 2024. (Photo Credit: Chris Poss | The Next)

Burton is grateful for the opportunity to keep her WNBA career going. 

“Going from one team to another and especially midseason, it’s not always easy,” she said. “There could be a lot of difficulties, but I think as far as transitioning goes, it’s been really smooth, and I’m really appreciative of everyone that’s helped.”

And there are certainly advantages to being back in New England. 

“It was the perfect situation, obviously, being so close to home, only an hour and a half drive,” she said. “Telling me family was great, and just the joy — they’ve been able to come to so many games. It’s been a phenomenal situation. I’m really grateful to be here.” 

Written by Noa Dalzell

Noa Dalzell covers the Boston Celtics for SB Nation's CelticsBlog and the Connecticut Sun for The Next. Her work has also appeared in FanSided and Swish Appeal, as well as CLNS Media. When she's not writing about basketball, she's playing basketball or lobbying for a more sustainable food system.

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