According to Tuscaloosa police, lottery-projected University of Alabama star guard Brandon Miller allegedly delivered his teammate Darius Miles a gun, which was subsequently used in the murder of 23-year-old mother Jamea Jonae Harris.
On Feb. 21, Tuscaloosa detective Branden Culpepper testified that Miles texted Miller and asked him to bring his gun to their location. When Miller arrived, Miles told Michael “Buzz” Davis, another Bama men’s basketball player, “The heat is in the hat,” and “There’s one in the head.”
To this point, Miller has not been charged with any crime. When Tuscaloosa chief deputy Paula Whitley was asked why, she stated, “That’s not a question I can answer. There’s nothing we could charge him with according to the law.”
In a press conference on Feb. 21, Alabama coach Nate Oats addressed the new development.
“Nobody knew that was going to happen,” Oats said. “College kids are out; Brandon hasn’t been in any type of trouble nor is he in any type of trouble in this case. Wrong spot at the wrong time.”
After receiving severe backlash for these comments, he released a statement on Feb. 21, stating in part, “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’s family.”
After the release of the new information, Miller’s status for the Crimson Tide’s Feb. 23 game against the University of South Carolina was uncertain until close to game time.
Eventually, it was decided he was cleared to play. When questioned postgame as to why, Roll Tide Athletic Director Greg Byrne stated, “Information was shared collectively, and collectively we decided that Brandon was able to play.”
Play, he did. Despite, or perhaps because of, the constant “lock him up” chants from the South Carolina student section, Miller scored a career-high 41 points, eight rebounds and one assist, including a layup to clinch the win in overtime. This marked the most points scored by a freshman in a Division 1 game this season and the most by an Alabama freshman guard in program history, according to ESPN.
Postgame, Oats praised Miller’s mental fortitude, stating, “One of the most mentally tough kids I’ve ever coached.”
“Not surprised he came ready to play and played well tonight,” Oats said. “It could’ve been a distraction. But Brandon showed up.”
DeCarla Cotton, the mother of Jamea Harris, had a different evaluation of the circumstances.
“It’s just unimaginable, and it’s like his life is just going on,” Cotton said in a USA Today interview. “He took a brief pause and it didn’t stop. It’s like OK, slap on the wrist and go play ball.”
After the 41-point performance, Miller’s attorneys released a statement denying Miller ever touched the gun.
“Brandon never touched the gun, was not involved in its exchange to Mr. Davis in any way, and never knew that illegal activity involving the gun would occur,” said Jim Standridge, one of the freshman’s attorneys.