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Monday, December 11, 2023

Men's Basketball

Jamal Shead ready for Big 12 challenge in senior season

Jamal Shead will play a huge role in UH’s first Big 12 season, having grown into a leader in his four years with the program. | Anh Le/The Cougar

With basketball season approaching, the Houston Cougars have high hopes for their first season in the Big 12, and senior point guard Jamal Shead is in the middle of it. 

Shead will be one of the main contributors for Houston to make a leap in the Big 12 as he has continued to improve his game individually, getting widespread attention across the country. Shead was named to the Bob Cousy Award Watch List, an honor that recognizes the top point guard in the nation. 

In a press conference ahead of the Cougars’ exhibition game against UNC Pembroke, Shead talked about his expectations individually, and for the team as a whole. 

“For that to even come my way and have that recognition towards me,” Shead said. “It’s just a testament to my work over the years.”

The senior guard also credited Houston men’s basketball head coach Kelvin Sampson and his role in his growth over the last four years.

“Being an extension of a guy like that every day, it’s gonna make you grow,” Shead said. “We look at everyone on the coaching staff as role models, and they’ve done nothing but help me these last three years.” 

Sampson raved about the overall poise and maturity Shead has shown after barely playing as a freshman and earning a larger role in his sophomore and junior seasons.

“Jamal was a freshman on the Final Four team. He had to go against Dejon Jarreau, Marcus Sasser and Quentin Grimes every day,” Sampson said. “In those practices, he got dominated early, but later he started giving it back to them. He’s gone from being that guy to being where he is now.”

When asked about the transition that the Cougars will face moving into a new conference, Shead seemed more than ready for the challenge.

“A lot of people speak on the Big 12 and the consistent battle every night from every team,” Shead said. “Just that and competing and being in the best conference is what I’m looking forward to.”

In addition to a new conference, Shead also has a new backcourt partner in Baylor transfer L.J. Cryer. The pair have had on-court battles against each other since grade school, and now as teammates, they have a chance to bring a dynamic that will push the Cougars to another level. 

“Just knowing that I’ve known that guy since elementary, it brings a lot to the table,” Shead said. “I wouldn’t say it’s going to be something that you can describe, but we’re going to help each other a lot.” 

The Cougars have a lot to prove in the 2023-24 season. Ranked No. 7 in the AP preseason poll with new competition in the Big 12, they have the opportunity to rise to a special occasion. Jamal Shead among others will be a key piece in that puzzle for the Cougars to not only win the Big 12 but also for the school’s search for its first national championship.

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