On and off the court, Jamal Shead is a selfless leader

Jamal Shead has really been my brother. We work out together every single day, and outside of basketball, we kick it all the time. You probably don’t know this, but Mal loves to get his nails done. When he goes, he’ll always ask me to go, too. It’s Jamal, Mo (Ramon Walker), and me. We go get mani-pedis. When I got here as a freshman, I was surprised and he was like, ‘Bro, I go every other week.’

It’s a ‘feel good, play good’ type of thing.

the daily #217 | 3/8/2024 | Archives

Mal’s main characteristics are that he’s a leader, a helper, and he’s really selfless. You don’t realize how selfless he is when you first meet him. Mal’s really for everybody else before he helps himself and he’s probably the first person I contact if I ever need something. He’s so willing to help somebody or be there for somebody, but he’s that way with everyone.

With me, he’s been that way since my recruiting visit. He was my host, and it started before I arrived. (Coach) K.C. Beard gave him my phone number, and he was the first person that texted me before my official visit. When I walked into the building, he was the first person to run up to me. We hung out, I watched them practice, and then went out with him after. I was with him the whole time.

Now, I really could just chill with him all day. We sit and play board games a lot. We play a game called Sequence before every road game. It’s been our good luck charm.

Eman and Mal cutting up on the bench // All photos © 2024 by Anh Le

He’s always teaching me, kind of like having another coach. He’s encouraging us. He’ll give me pointers on a play, what to do on defense, or what I should be looking for. When I think of floor general, he’s the person I think of. He really coaches everybody while he’s on the floor. In every aspect of every practice, he’s going hard. He leads by example. He’s a really intense dude while he’s on the floor. But we need that – especially this team.

In the huddle, Mal gives Coach (Kelvin) Sampson his input, or Samp asks Mal for it. It shows how cohesive they are together. He’s the coach, but he’s going through Jamal to coach us on the court. He’ll ask Jamal at halftime what he sees, and we’ll go from there. The coaches take that back and work on game plans at halftime.

Last year when I hadn’t been playing, Mal was telling me to be patient. I was still trying to get used to this program because it’s a pretty big learning curve. All freshmen that come here think it’s the end of the world, but we all go through it. He went through the same thing and he helped me. He’d say it’s not everybody’s time right now.

talkin it through on the court // All photos © 2024 by Anh Le

Just by watching him on the defensive end, I’ve gotten better. How he takes his angles because he has good instincts. When we watch film, you can see where he’s at on the floor when he gets his steals and I try to put myself in those same poisitons. I watch what he’s looking for, and I just try to copy it and that’s how I get some of my steals.

You can just tell by the way our team has looked this season and it all starts with Mal. Point of attack, that’s what Coach Samp calls him. Mal really gets everything going on, controlling the offense and getting it started on the defense. He’s doing everything: he’s been rebounding well, his defense is elite, his passing ability. There’s not really an area of the game he doesn’t excel in.

I think that’s what makes Jamal Shead the Big 12 Player of the Year.



Emanuel Sharp
Emanuel Sharp
Emanuel is a starting guard for the Houston Cougars Men's Basketball Team. He's from Tampa, Florida.

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