The Alabama Crimson Tide men’s basketball program has found itself under a microscope since Darius Miles, a former player, was arrested and charged with capital murder in connection with the fatal shooting of Jamea Jonae Harris, a 23-year-old woman. In addition to Miles, two freshman players have been tangentially linked to the case. One of them is Brandon Miller, a projected lottery pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. The other is Rochester, NY native Jaden Bradley.
Below is a timeline of events and details about the developing story.
January 14: Darius Miles Ruled Out for the Season
January 15: Darius Miles is Arrested and Charged with Capital Murder
Darius Miles and Michael Lynn Davis were arrested and charged with capital murder less than 24 hours after Miles was ruled out for the season. Court records stated that Davis was the triggerman in the early morning shooting that killed Jamea Jonae Harris. The records also indicated that Miles supplied the gun used to commit the crime. Davis was accused of firing the gun into a car in which Harris was a passenger following what police called “a minor altercation.” The University of Alabama’s Athletic Department dismissed Miles from the basketball team after his arrest and said that they were “fully cooperating with [the] investigation.”
February 21: Police Investigator Alleges that Brandon Miller Brought Darius Miles’ gun to Crime Scene
Law enforcement says that Miles texted Miller and asked him to bring Miles’ gun to “The Strip,” a nearby entertainment district in Tuscaloosa. During a preliminary hearing, Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne revealed that Miles told Miller, “I need my joint,” at around 1:40 a.m. Prosecutors assert that “joint” refers to Miles’ gun. Investigators reported that the gun was exchanged in Miller’s car outside the Twelve25 Sports Bar a few minutes later. Freshman guard Jaden Bradley was also placed at the scene.
Nate Oats, who previously coached at the University at Buffalo, did not seem fully informed or did not realize the gravity of the situation when addressing the media. Oats knew about Miller’s presence at the crime scene but noted that he was “not in any trouble.” Coach Oats told reporters that you “can’t control everything anybody does outside of practice.” Other questionable comments from the press conference appeared to understate the consequences of the event. His answers included phrases such as “college kids are out” and “wrong spot at the wrong time.” Oats later clarified what he called “unfortunate remarks” and added that he did not “intend to downplay the seriousness of this situation or the tragedy of that night.”
February 22: Miller’s Attorney Refutes Investigator’s Report; Nate Oats Apologizes
Brandon Miller’s attorney Jim Standridge issued a statement refuting the investigator’s report alleging that Miller brought Miles’ gun to the crime scene. Standridge claimed that Miller “never got out of his vehicle or interacted with anyone in Ms. Harris’ party.” He insisted that Miller was not involved in the verbal altercation that preceded the incident, did not touch the gun, and never expected that a situation involving the gun would occur.
The University of Alabama released a statement that named Miller as a cooperative witness rather than a suspect in the case. The University also decided that Miller would remain an active member of the basketball team. The call to allow Miller to continue playing was a group decision that included Athletic Director Greg Byrne and University President Stuart R. Bell.
Later that night, Alabama won an overtime game against South Carolina where Miller scored a career-high 41 points and made the winning basket. During the post-game press conference, Oats apologized for his earlier response to the situation and mentioned that he did not have the full details from the previous morning’s hearing because he went to the interview directly from practice.
February 23: The Harris Family Speaks Out
Jamea Harris’s stepfather, Kelvin Heard, spoke to AL .com about his frustration with the University of Alabama and Nate Oats’ handling of the Miller situation. Heard is now committed to raising the 5-year-old son that Harris left behind. Oats apparently reached out to NFL Hall-of-Famer Ray Lewis for advice before calling to offer condolences to Jamea’s mother or step-father. That shouldn’t sit well with anyone given that Lewis was charged with murder in 2000. The former Baltimore Raven pled guilty to an obstruction of justice charge and agreed to testify against two of his friends who were also charged with the two murders. The defendants were eventually acquitted and the case was left unsolved.
Heard does not believe that Oats and the Crimson Tide were praying for Harris at practice last Tuesday. He thinks that they were praying for their own players.
Brandon Miller’s Pat-Down Pregame Introduction Ritual – Image from Polish News
February 25: Oats Responds that Miller’s “Pat-Down” Introduction has Happened the Entire Season but Acknowledges that the Action was not Appropriate
Oats took the blame for Miller’s pregame introduction antics following Saturday’s win against Arkansas. The Crimson Tide’s head coach said that he “dropped the ball” in allowing Adam Cottrell to frisk Miller before the game as the starting lineups were being announced. The players explained the routine to Oats, relating it to the TSA checking Miller before getting on a plane and clearing him for takeoff. Oats admitted that “the adults in the room should have been more sensitive to how it could have been interpreted” and assured everyone that “it won’t happen again.”
Miles’ and Davis’ attorneys have asked that their clients be released on bond and claim that Davis fired in self-defense. The judge has not ruled on whether the two men will be granted bond or whether to send the case to a grand jury. Harris’s boyfriend, Cedric Johnson, the driver of the car, also told police that he returned gunfire in self-defense.
Meanwhile, Miller has racked up 65 points and 14 rebounds in two wins over Arkansas and South Carolina. The 6-foot-9-inch forward is projected as a lottery pick in the upcoming 2023 NBA Draft. Mock drafts consistently have him as the likely third overall pick. Miller is leading number-two-ranked Alabama to its best season in program history. He is averaging 18.7 points and eight rebounds per game.
The Crimson Tide must now navigate this extremely complicated, distracting, and tragic matter. In less than two weeks, Alabama will probably be given a number-one-seed in the NCAA March Madness Tournament for the first time in school history. Despite all that the team has accomplished this season, they will pursue a national championship under a dark cloud.
Alabama chose not to suspend Miller or Bradley. The University knew that Miller and Bradley were at the scene before the public but did not release this information because they believed it was law enforcement’s call to make. Bradley and Miles had been inside the bar. Miller allegedly did not go in because the line was too long.
Furthermore, Alabama has not conducted its own investigation. School officials have not interviewed Miller or Bradley about what happened. However, this is justified because gathering information would potentially interfere with an active murder investigation. Law enforcement has also told the University from the beginning that Miller and Bradley are not suspects but are considered cooperating witnesses.
Even with Miller and Bradley being cleared of criminal activity, questions surrounding the circumstances and events of that night remain. The fact is that Miller brought the gun to Miles. Did he comprehend what Miles meant by “joint?” Did he read or reply to the text? What were his true intentions in driving to Miles? Did Miller violate Alabama’s Student Code of Conduct? What are the implications for Miller’s NIL deals?
It is also permissible to question the leadership of Oats and other high-ranking members of the University in this scenario. Why wasn’t Oats fully informed of the situation before addressing the media? Ultimately, responsibility for the University’s decisions and response should be placed on President Stuart Bell, Athletic Director Greg Byrne, and the school’s legal counsel. College hoops fans will surely pay close attention to this ongoing saga as outside pressure builds and the Crimson Tide make a push at a deep tournament run in March.
Brandon Miller and Adam Cottrell – https://polishnews.co.uk/brandon-miller-alabama-receive-backlash-as-team-continues-pat-down-ritual-despite-freshmans-link-to-shooting/