Alabama star Brandon Miller, allowed to play amid controversy over his alleged role leading up to a fatal shooting, scored a career-best 41 points and led the Crimson Tide to a 78-76 overtime win at South Carolina on Wednesday.
The big performance in Columbia, S.C., came one day after Tuscaloosa, Ala., police testified that the freshman forward transported the gun to a then-teammate that was used to kill a woman last month.
The University of Alabama said it looked further into the situation and cleared Miller to play in the Southeastern Conference game against the Gamecocks. Miller wasn’t charged in the Jan. 15 shooting death of 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris.
“UA Athletics continues to cooperate fully with law enforcement in the on-going investigation of this tragic situation,” Alabama said in a statement. “Based on all the information we have received, Brandon Miller is not considered a suspect in this case, only a cooperative witness. Today’s statement from Brandon’s lawyer adds additional context that the University has considered as part of its review of the facts. Based on all of the facts we have gathered, Brandon remains an active member of our team.”
Michael Lynn Davis and former Alabama player Darius Miles are facing capital murder charges. Miller brought the gun to Miles, who was dismissed from the program after his arrest. Davis has been identified by police as the shooter.
Miller’s attorney, Jim Standridge, said his client didn’t see the weapon.
“Brandon never saw the handgun nor handled it,” Standridge said in a statement. “Further, it is our understanding that the weapon was concealed under some clothing in the back seat of his car.”
On Tuesday, Tuscaloosa chief deputy district attorney Paula Whitley told AL.com that there was nothing his department could charge Miller with.
Another Alabama player, Jaden Bradley, also was at the scene. He also hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing.
Miller’s involvement in the incident wasn’t publicly known until Tuesday. Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats initially said the school knew and his remarks included “wrong spot at the wrong time,” in regards to Miller being at the scene.
Oats later clarified his “unfortunate remarks” and said, “In no way did I intend to downplay the seriousness of this situation or the tragedy of that night. My prayers continue to go out to Jamea Harris’ family.”
After the win at South Carolina, Oats said, “I’m not here to make excuses but I want to make it clear, I didn’t have the details from the hearing (Tuesday) morning since I was coming straight from practice and I used a poor choice of words, making it appear that I wasn’t taking this tragic situation seriously, which we have throughout the course of it.
“I sincerely apologize for that.”
He added of the decision to permit Miller to play against the Gamecocks, “We make decisions based on available facts and that’s what we did here.”
The explosive situation comes with Alabama (24-4, 14-1 SEC) ranked second nationally and on track to get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, with Miller leading the way.
Miller leads the SEC with a 19.5 scoring average and became just the third freshman in school history to score at least 500 points in a season. He also is averaging 8.0 rebounds per game and has made a team-high 88 3-pointers.
Miller is expected to declare for the NBA draft following the season. He is projected as a probable top five overall pick.
–Field Level Media