Brandon Miller pat-down ‘won’t happen again,’ says Alabama coach Nate Oats


If Alabama had hoped to return to some semblance of basketball normality after a week of headlines over freshman star Brandon Miller and his closeness last month to a fatal shooting, it ended on Saturday with the introduction of Crimson Tide’s starting lineup ahead of their 86-83 win over Arkansas.

When Miller’s name was announced, he slapped his teammates’ hands as he ran down the field and then, arms outstretched, was patted down by another player. This wasn’t the first time Miller had taken part in this intro, according to ESPN.

Miller, a select lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft, led Alabama to a 25-4 record, a No. 2 national ranking and a likely No. 1 seed at the NCAA Tournament of the Month. next. But he and the school were thrust into the national spotlight last week when further details of the January 15 shooting death of 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris emerged.

Coach Nate Oats and the university have drawn heavy criticism over their reaction to details of Miller’s role in a capital murder case in which former Crimson Tide player Darius Miles and Michael “Buzz” Davis have been charged. Neither Miller nor fellow freshman Jaden Bradley, who were at the scene, are suspects in the murder, but following Saturday’s victory, in which Miller scored 24 points, Oats apologized, adding that he was unaware of what happened during player introductions.

“Before starting the match, I brought to my attention after the match our pre-match presentations,” Oats said after his post-match press conference was postponed. “I think it’s something that’s been going on all year. I do not really know. I don’t really watch our presentations. I am not involved with them. I draw pieces during this time. Either way, it’s not appropriate. This has been resolved and I can assure you that it will definitely not happen again for the rest of this year.

Criticism was swift, fueled in part by what went viral from Birmingham TV station WVTM, and Alabama’s reaction – rather than action – to it.

“Can anyone at this university realize that maybe – maybe – this is a very bad look for a player who would have transported the murder weapon in his car to the scene of the crime and who was present during the murder? Sports Illustrated wrote. “This former Alabama player, Darius Miles, is charged with a capital murder that was committed while he was on the team? This departing colleague Jaden Bradley would also have been at the scene of the shooting?

“Can anyone in Alabama show class and responsibility?”

USA Today questioned why Miller continues to perform, a question that will only intensify during March Madness. “It is our job to make sure that the Alabama season, as it unfolds, cannot be separated from the reality that the school administration has proceeded throughout as if it does not. there was nothing to do here and that his best player did nothing wrong.”

Miller delivered a gun to Miles, who then gave it to Davis, a court hearing revealed last week. When asked why Miller, 20, has not been charged, Tuscaloosa District Chief Assistant Attorney Paula Whitley said: ‘That’s not a question I can answer. . We can’t fault him.

There’s no right way to talk about Alabama basketball right now

Jay Bilas, the former Duke player and ESPN analyst who is also an attorney, defended Alabama’s handling of the situation.

“I think Alabama handled this as well as you can, with the exception of Nate Oats in his press conference where he should have just said, ‘It’s a pending court case. Alabama and Brandon Miller have fully cooperated with authorities and will continue to do so, but beyond that we will have no further comment,” he added. Rinse said last week on “Pardon the Interruption.” “That’s what he should have said and that should be the answer to all those questions.

“Brandon Miller has rights. Authorities told Alabama he was a witness, not a suspect. There is no indication that he broke any law. They know him better than we do, and if they didn’t do anything about five weeks ago when this horrible tragedy happened, I see no reason to do it now. Now, if anything else comes out, I understand that, but to me, if he were kicked out of the competition now, it would be Alabama saying, “Our reputation as a university and what people are saying of us are more important than our player.” I think they’ve balanced player and college and those interests pretty well overall.

Miller didn’t miss a game and scored a career-high 41 points on Wednesday, the day after he was tied to the shootout. On Saturday, Alabama’s director of sports information sought to limit questions to the game, according to ESPN. However, a reporter asked if Oats had contacted the family of Harris, whose parents criticized him for allowing Miller to continue playing and for saying last week that Miller “hasn’t had any type of problem, nor any type of problem in this case. Wrong place at the wrong time.

“Listen, to answer it a bit,” Oats said on Saturday. “I apologize for my previous comments this week. We understand the seriousness of it all, but I’m leading the administration on everything here, so we’re going to talk about the game, that’s what they would like me to. speak.

Alabama did not release Miller or any players to the media, leaving Oats to speak about his star’s state of mind.

“He’s one of the most mentally strong kids, if not the most mentally strong, that I’ve coached in my life and I’ve been coaching for quite some time,” Oats said. “While he fully understands that the situation is tragic and he takes it very seriously and has been cooperative the whole time, he has also done a great job of being able to focus on practices, games and just getting that laser focus where he’s dialed in to where his feet are at.”

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