Spring 2017

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Nia Coffey, a three-time All–Big Ten first teamer and honorable mention All-American, is poised to become only the second Northwestern player taken in the WNBA draft.

Nia Coffey
Nia Coffey works against a Loyola defender. Photo by S.J. Carrera Inc./Northwestern Athletics.

Early in the 2016–17 season, the women’s basketball team lost to crosstown rival DePaul by 23 points. Days later, Northwestern stunned the 16th-ranked Florida Gators 73-68. The key difference between the two games: Nia Coffey.

The senior superstar sat out a few early-season contests with an injury, but her return sparked Northwestern to the upset. The forward scored 11 of Northwestern’s 18 first-quarter points and finished with a game high 26.

Her other stats in the win over Florida: 14 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and four steals. It’s the little things — defense and rebounding (a category in which she became Northwestern’s all-time leader this season) — that Coffey says push her game forward.

Focusing on those less-glamorous aspects has paid off for Coffey. In 2014 she was the first freshman player in Northwestern history to be named first-team All–Big Ten, an honor she earned again as both a sophomore and junior. Following the 2015–16 campaign she was named an honorable mention All-American. Earlier this season Coffey became just the fifth player in Big Ten history to reach 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.

“The one thing that separates the best players is that they make everybody on the court better. And I think that’s what she does,” head coach Joe McKeown says of Coffey. “She has a great sense of what needs to be done at the time [to win the game].”

As the season progresses, Coffey will do her best to get the Wildcats back to the NCAA Tournament. But the Minnesota native’s basketball career likely won’t end in Evanston. Many scouting websites have Coffey listed as a top 10 pick in the 2017 WNBA draft. If she is selected, she will join Amy Jaeschke ’11 as the only Northwestern players drafted into the league.