Army National Guard of the Week: Jamal Shead talks leadership, Big 12, more

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Following back-to-back losses in early January – the Houston Cougars’ first two defeats of the season – Jamal Shead knew something needed to change.

“We knew we needed a win, and we knew we needed to get back on track,” Shead said. “We had to really lock in.”

Shead and the Cougars did just that as the senior point guard put together one of the best games of his career, totaling 29 points, 10 assists and four rebounds in a commanding 77-54 victory over Texas Tech back on Jan. 17. He then followed that up with a 10-point, seven-rebound, five-assist, four-steal outing as the Cougars put together a defensive clinic in a 57-42 win over UCF on Saturday.

Shead’s impressive run has led to him being named this week’s FOX Sports Army National Guard of the Week. With that, he joined me to discuss several engaging topics, including playing for Kelvin Sampson, life in the Big 12 and taking on a leadership role with this year’s team.

“You can’t approach every guy the same way because everybody responds differently,” Shead said when asked about being a leader. “Me and Coach [Sampson] always talk about being a better leader and being more consistent every day. I just try to follow what Coach does. He’s a great leader.”

Shead, who was a three-star recruit out of Manor, Texas, arrived at Houston back in 2020 and helped guide the Cougars to a pair of American Conference Tournament championships in 2021 and 2022 and back-to-back regular-season titles in 2022 and 2023.

Houston is now in the midst of its first season in the Big 12 and is off to a 3-2 start in conference play with an upcoming matchup against No. 21 BYU at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday in Provo.

According to Shead, Houston’s move to the Big 12 has not only been a positive experience for the men’s basketball team, but for the university as a whole.

“Making that move was really good for all sports. It was really big for our students and for the school,” Shead said. “We’re excited about playing in the Big 12, and when our fans bring that energy, it fuels us. It feels like we are playing someone ranked every other night, and it’s always a battle, which is fun.”

While Shead admits that the goal for Houston every year is to win a national title, the focus right now is figuring out a way to win a Big 12 championship.

“It would mean so much because coming from the AAC, a lot of people had their doubts about us,” Shead said. “We hear that stuff. We take it into account, and we try to prove them wrong.”

Watch my complete interview with Shead below and follow along at and on social media, @CBBonFOX, for our next FOX Sports Army National Guard of the Week interview.

Houston’s Jamal Shead is John Fanta’s Guard of the Week

Houston's Jamal Shead is John Fanta's Guard of the Week

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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