On Wednesday night, Alabama star freshman Brandon Miller scored a career-high 41 points, leading the No. 2 Crimson Tide to a 78-76 win over South Carolina in an overtime thriller. This impressive performance came just a day after Tuscaloosa police testified that Miller had brought a now-former teammate the handgun used to kill a woman in January. Miller performed for his team despite the criticism and chants from the opposing student section.
Before the game, Alabama announced that Miller would play, calling him "an active member of our team." The school stated that they were cooperating with law authorities in investigating the shooting and reported that Miller was only a cooperative witness and not a suspect based on the information they had received.
On January 15, an early morning shooting claimed the life of 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris near the University of Alabama campus. Following Harris's death, the Crimson Tide men's basketball team dismissed Darius Miles, who, along with Michael Lynn Davis, is accused of capital murder.
Tuscaloosa Detective Branden Culpepper testified in court on Tuesday that Miller brought Miles' gun to him the night of the incident after Miles requested it via text message. On Tuesday, the Chief Deputy District Attorney for Tuscaloosa, Paula Whitley, told AL.com that "there's nothing we could prosecute [Miller] with," even though Miller was not charged with any crimes.
According to Greg Byrne, the director of athletics at Alabama, the choice to let Miller play was decided after consultation with the school's administration, including Dr. Stuart R. Bell, Nate Oats, the coach of the Crimson Tide, the university's legal counsel, and others. According to him, the school discovered certain "new information" in the previous 48 hours due to the hearing on Tuesday and the events that followed, which impacted their choice to let Miller play.
In reaction to inaccurate reporting, Jim Standridge, one of the lawyers for Miller, issued a statement on Wednesday that reiterated some of those issues and provided more information on Brandon's behalf. Miller never noticed Miles' weapon, which Standridge claims was "concealed behind some garments in the back seat" of Miller's automobile. Miller, he said, never handled the pistol or took part in its transfer to Davis, the suspected shooter.
Recently, two events involving murder accusations have rocked the Alabama basketball program. Devonta Pollard, a former basketball player for Alabama, was given a 25-year prison term in December for his involvement in a kidnapping and assault case that culminated in the death of a 6-year-old boy. The most recent incident involving Miles and Davis has further increased the program's scrutiny.
AJ Calabro is a former student-athlete at Syracuse University and a current law student at Roger Williams University. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @AJ_Calabro