Soon-to-be senior and the engine behind Houston’s prominent basketball squad Jamal Shead is enjoying and taking advantage of the opportunities afforded to him in the name, image and likeness (NIL) space.
Shead is getting set to finish his collegiate career, and he has the game and the NIL appeal you want representing you on and off the court.
Even though the Cougars’ season had a disappointing ending, Shead has been keeping busy by securing more NIL deals.
Shead now has a wide-ranging NIL partnership with Playmaker.
Playmaker, a sports media and talent management company with more than 18 million followers across its various social channels, has 50+ athletes and creators under management. Through his NIL deal with Playmaker, Shead has secured deals with HeyDude and Steve Madden via the Postgame app.
Shead recently spoke with The NIL Deal about how he is navigating the NIL space as he gets set to finish his college career.
Shead connects with Playmaker
So how did Shead get connected with Playmaker?
“My teammates from last (few) years, Marcus Sasser and Kyler Edwards, both were signed with Playmaker,” said Shead. “I saw all the things they were doing and all the NIL deals they were getting. And it wasn’t just about money, as they were making a lot of relationships and doing stuff for the community. That drew me into Playmaker.”
Through Playmaker, Shead met his agent Napoleon “Polo” Kerber.
Kerber serves as the head of talent and partnerships, brokering key brand partnerships for Playmaker’s roster of talent. In addition to Shead, Playmaker has represented several notable college athletes since the launch of NIL such as Jalen Wilson and Deuce Vaughn, among others.
Shead said Kerber has been a mentor to him on how to operate in the NIL space.
“He’s an awesome guy, a really good dude,” Shead said. “He always looks out for me and he checks in on me. That goes a long way. He talks and texts with me and asks me how I’m doing. It’s not always about work.”
Prior to his deals with HeyDude and Steve Madden, Shead has secured other NIL deals.
He is a local celebrity in H-Town with agreements to advertise Houston-area businesses such as Raising Cane’s, Little Woodrow’s Shepherd, Cosmic Ice Cream, and Houston Spine and Rehab.
Cosmic Ice Cream even made Shead a signature flavor when Houston was in the NCAA Tournament this year. Raising Cane’s supplies him with free food and Little Woodrow’s Shepherd is supportive and makes him feel at home when he visits their establishment.
Shead particularly likes to use the rehab facilities at Houston Spine and Rehab.
“I get to use (their facilities) anytime I want,” said Shead. “I can go up there and get treatment if I want. I can just text them and they help me out.”
While the money earned through NIL has been beneficial to his college experience, Shead said having NIL deals has opened doors for possible future business relationships. Through his NIL partnerships, he has learned to manage finances and build his business acumen for when his playing days are over.
Dreams of going pro
Shead has the ultimate dream of playing in the NBA, but through his NIL relationships, he knows what to expect wherever his future takes him.
“Being a professional on that side (finances), you know they help me keep my image and know how to act around certain people and just being a professional,” said Shead. “Like all these modeling gigs or whatnot and going to certain events. Polo does a good job of advising me and I get to meet a lot of people that can help me in the future.”
He said through Playmaker, it has also introduced him to ex-NBA players like Mario Chalmers, Baron Davis, and Nate Robinson.
“Speaking to those guys and them saying they’ve watched my game and giving me tips like that is great,” Shead said. “I mean Mario Chalmers is a two-time champion. Baron Davis and Nate Robinson are known worldwide. Meeting those guys has helped in so many ways. Those three guys are doing something that I want to do.”
Shead said he is also using money to help his family come to see him play.
“Just getting that money (so) that I can help my family travel,” Shead said. “My mom and my dad didn’t miss a game this year and (NIL money) was part of that reason because I can help them get to my games. It’s just little things like that help me in such a long way.”
What’s next for Shead, Houston?
While Shead is thankful for his NIL deals, he is most focused on winning a national championship to cement his legacy at Houston.
The Cougars have had some glorious runs in his three years on campus. During that time, Houston has appeared in one Final Four, one Elite Eight, and one Sweet 16 appearance. Houston has gone 93-14 with Shead on the team.
Shead is coming off a season in which he scored 10.5 points per game to go with 5.4 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game. Shead and the Cougars have had all the regular-season glory, but Shead is thirsty for the last thing he truly wants.
“Man, that’s the one goal (championship) that everybody has, but I really feel we can do (it). I think if we give it our all (next) year we can get to that point.”