Jewel Spear has made a rather seamless transition from high school to playing NCAA Division I women’s college basketball.
Spear was known for her scoring abilities during her four years playing for The Colony and that trademark shooting touch has Wake Forest on the cusp of a winning record for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
Coming into Thursday’s game against No. 4 NC Sate, the Demon Deacons were 11-8 overall and 8-7 in ACC play.
Just like when she first walked through the doors of Tommy Thomas Gymnasium, Spear has been a starter since her freshman season. The 5-foot-10 guard has started all 19 games for the Demon Deacons and there has only been one game when the 2020 alum of The Colony hasn’t earned her way into the scorebook.
As of Thursday morning, Spear ranks 46th in all of NCAA Division 1 in 3-point shooting percentage (40.4). Her 40 made 3s is 12 ahead of the next best Wake Forest player in that statistical category (Gina Conti, 28).
This kind of success hasn’t come as a surprise to her high school coach.
"We felt like that she would go in and contribute right away," said Colby Davis, The Colony head coach. "That's exactly what she has done. We're not at all surprised about the success that she's had."
Davis gave Spear advice as to how to approach her freshman season before she departed last summer for North Carolina and she continues to keep in contact with her star shooting guard despite being halfway across the country.
Even from afar, Davis continues to coach up Spear.
Back in November, Davis exchanged a series of text messages with Spear to talk to her about her shooting. Spear had just three field goal attempts in a Nov. 28 game against Davidson and four in Wake Forest’s next outing Nov. 29 vs. Missouri State.
Davis’ message to Spear: keep shooting.
“Jewel is a natural scorer,” Davis said. “She can score from anywhere on the floor. We had a text conversation and said, 'hey, we enjoy watching you play, but you need to shoot the ball more. She would laugh and say, 'I'm playing really good defense right now. That's what is keeping me is in the starting lineup. I said, 'Jewel, I get it, I understand it. But, they didn't recruit you to play defense. You got recruited to score.'"
Ever since that conversation, Spear has had no fewer than six shot attempts in a game. Spear has twice put up 17 field goal attempts – both times she scored more than 20 points, netting 22 against North Carolina on Dec. 20 and 24 points against Clemson on Jan. 31.
Spear strung together five straight games from Dec. 17-Jan. 14 scoring in double figures, including the 22-point outing against the Tar Heels.
After scoring just 16 points in Wake Forest’s next three games against Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Louisville, Spear has gotten back into a groove. She has potted at least 10 points in five of the last six games, punctuated by a season-high 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting in the Demon Decons’ 69-66 loss to Clemson.
Davis said she has watched just about every one of Spear’s games on television.
"It's funny because we watched her do those things for four years," Davis said. "I've really enjoyed listening to the commentators be so shocked and so surprised about she's doing on the floor. We sit back and laugh because this is stuff that we were fortunate to have coached and watched every day."
Spear helped to take The Colony girls basketball program to new heights during her four seasons playing for the Lady Cougars.
During her four-year run at The Colony, Spear reached at least the third round of the playoffs in each of those seasons, including two trips to the regional semifinals and the first-ever undefeated season in conference play in program history in 2017.
Spear was named to the Texas Girls Coaches Association all-state team her senior season, becoming one of the 20 girls from across the 5A and 6A levels combined to receive such an honor and one of the 40 across all levels. She led the Lady Cougars in points (24.2) and rebounds (8.3).