Jamal Shead will have some familiarity with two of his new Toronto Raptors teammates. Shead played four years at Houston, emerging as that program’s winningest player (Houston went 120-18 with Shead) before being selected by the Raptors 45th overall last month. There are Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry vibes with Shead, so it’s easy to see why the Raptors liked him. He’ll turn 22 later this month and play for Toronto’s entry at the Las Vegas Summer League starting Saturday against Oklahoma City.

Shead played many games against the Baylor Bears, a Big 12 rival, and will now be on the same side as Baylor’s freshman star Ja’Kobe Walter, starting in Las Vegas. Walter was selected by the Raptors 19th overall. Shead recently went for a double-double in an overtime win over Walter’s 2024 Baylor squad and as a freshman got into action briefly in a Final Four semifinal loss to Davion Mitchell’s Bears. Mitchell, the 9th pick of the 2021 NBA draft, was acquired from the Sacramento Kings.

Now all three players could be important parts of Toronto’s bench moving forward. Shead, the NCAA’s reigning defensive player of the year and the Big 12 player of the year, nearly won this year’s game prior to overtime with a buzzer-beater that was ruled just late and he was a thorn in the side of Baylor head coach Scott Drew for years. Which is why Drew thinks the Raptors did well in adding Shead, Mitchell and Walter so far this off-season, amongst other moves.

“In basketball, the more guys that can pass, dribble and shoot, and the more guys that’ll defend, the better you are,” Drew told Postmedia. “And I’m glad we don’t have to face Jamal anymore, but he’s very similar (to Mitchell). You can see what Toronto really targeted, and that’s great, teammates, winners, extremely hard workers, coachable leaders. I mean, they really got a group that half the battle is loving your teammates and believing and doing what your coaches and organization wants,” Drew said.

“That starts with character. They got an A plus on their draft, in my opinion,” he said.