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Kelvin Sampson and Jamal Shead Lead Houston Men's Hoops' Big 12 Award Honorees

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POSTED: March 4, 2024 -- 1:30 p.m. CT

A day after capturing the first Big 12 championship in school history, Head Coach Kelvin Sampson and senior point guard Jamal Shead led Houston's Big 12 postseason award honorees, released by the league office on Sunday evening.

Sampson was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year while Shead was honored as both the Big 12 Player of the Year and the Defensive Player of the Year. Shead also was named to the All-Big 12 First Team and the All-Defensive Team.

Senior guard LJ Cryer was named to the league's Second Team while senior forward J'Wan Roberts earned a place on the Third Team. Sophomore guard Emanuel Sharp and junior forward Ja'Vier Francis received Honorable Mention with forward Joseph Tugler receiving honors on the All-Freshman Team.

Houston's defense leads the nation in in scoring defense (56.9 ppg, 1st) and turnover margin (7.4, 1st) and ranks among the country's Top 10 in field goal percentage defense (38.3, 2nd), turnovers per game (8.7, 4th), scoring margin (+17.3, 2nd) and steals per game (10.3, 7th).

Under Sampson's leadership, Houston has been ranked for a school-record 82 consecutive weeks, including each of the last 37 weeks in the Top 10, another program best.

"First, this is a team honor. Part of our secret sauce is our coaching staff. I have been able to keep this staff together, and that has been a big part of our success," Sampson said. "One of the things I enjoy most is putting a team together and getting them to play for each other. That doesn't happen unless everyone is connected. This is very much a shared award."

This marks the third straight season in which Sampson was named the Conference Coach of the Year and the fifth time in the last seven years.

With Sunday's awards, Shead became the first player in Big 12 history to collect Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the same season.

"This is such a blessing. Both awards mean so much to me," Shead said. "Being on the best team made it easy, and I want to thank my teammates. They allowed me to be the best version of myself I could be all season."

Shead became the third Cougar in the last four years to be named Conference Player of the Year joining guard Marcus Sasser (2022-23, American Athletic) and guard Quentin Grimes (2020-21, American Athletic).

He also collected his second straight Conference Defensive Player of the Year award, joining forward Bo Outlaw as the only Cougars to accomplish that feat.

"A point guard's greatest statistic is did his team win, and Jamal cares more about winning than any individual statistic. He is an unbelievable extension of our coaching staff. He knows where everyone should be. He pays attention to everybody's responsibilities, so he can correct them on the floor when needed. That is the epitome of a leader," Sampson said. "In my 35 years, he is the greatest leader I have ever coached."

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