Brandon Miller still seems to have strong support from Alabama fans.
But his questionable choice of pre-match handshake did not have the support of his manager.
The Crimson Tide’s star forward and projected top-five NBA draft pick received a standing ovation and cheers from the Alabama crowd before the team’s 86-83 win over Arkansas on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala. As he was inserted into the starting lineups, however, Miller feigned being dropped by a teammate amid recent controversy surrounding the program.
“It’s not appropriate,” Tide coach Nate Oats told reporters after the game. “It has been dealt with and I can assure you it will definitely not happen again.”
Miller, a freshman from Antioch, Tenn., has been linked to the Jan. 15 fight in Tuscaloosa with former teammate Darius Miles and a friend of Miles’, Michael Davis. The shooting resulted in the death of 23-year-old mother Jamea Harris. Miles and Davis were charged with murder, and Miles was kicked off the Crimson Tide basketball team. The case will go to a grand jury.
During pretrial testimony Tuesday, police accused Miller of bringing Miles’ gun to him before the fatal shooting after Miles texted him to do so and described an ongoing argument. Miller had allegedly dropped Miles and Davis off at a sports bar earlier before returning when Miles retrieved his gun from the back seat. Prosecutors said Miles admitted to handing the gun to Davis, who began shooting at a Jeep containing Harris and her boyfriend. Harris was struck and killed while her boyfriend returned fire with his own gun before fleeing.
Prior to Miles’ message to Miller, he and Davis reportedly clashed with Harris’ team after Harris rejected Davis’ advances. At least 11 shots were fired in total, and Davis later told police he was so drunk on tequila he didn’t remember the incident.
Saturday’s game was Miller’s first home game since the allegations against him became public. He returned to the court after pretrial testimony, though that was on the road in Wednesday’s 78-76 overtime win over South Carolina.
Despite being jeered by chants of “Shut him up,” Miller scored a career-high 41 points in the win over the Gamecocks.
Miller is not listed as a suspect and local prosecutors do not plan to charge him with a crime. However, Oats’ decision to let him continue to play has sparked an outcry across the country.
Harris’ parents called it “unthinkable” that Miller is still allowed to play.
Oats claimed he was aware of Miller’s role in the incident Tuesday and allowed Miller to remain on the court, raising his eyebrows in seemingly downplaying it.
“We knew that,” Oats said when asked about Miller allegedly bringing the gun to Miles. “I can’t control everything that anyone does outside of training. Nobody knew what was going to happen. … Brandon has not faced any problems, nor is he facing any problems in this case. Wrong place at the wrong time.”
Oats later clarified his remarks and emphasized that the program is cooperating fully with the investigation.
The 6-foot-9 Miller is averaging 19.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game this season. He finished with 24 points and six rebounds in Saturday’s win.