Alabama freshman Brandon Miller will play Wednesday night against South Carolina, the school announced about 3.5 hours before tipoff, despite Tuscaloosa police testifying a day earlier that the star forward brought a now-former teammate the handgun used to kill a woman in January.
“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.”
Tuscaloosa detective Branden Culpepper testified Tuesday that Miller brought Darius Miles’ gun to him on the night of the shooting death of 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris, after Miles asked him to do so via text message.
Miles, who has since been removed from Crimson Tide basketball program, and Michael Lynn Davis face capital murder charges in the death of Harris, who was shot and killed near campus in the early morning hours of Jan. 15. Miles admitted to providing the gun used in the shooting, according to investigators, but said Davis fired the weapon.
Miller was not charged with a crime, and Tuscaloosa chief deputy district attorney Paula Whitley told AL.com on Tuesday that “there’s nothing we could charge [Miller] with.”
Jim Standridge, one of the attorneys representing Miller, released a statement earlier Wednesday in an attempt to “provide additional facts on Brandon’s behalf in response to misstatements in reporting yesterday regarding Brandon.”
Standridge wrote that Miller never saw the handgun and it was “concealed under some clothing in the back seat of his car.” Miller was already on his way to pick up Miles when Miles texted him to bring him his gun, according to Standridge, and never touched the gun or was involved in its exchange to Davis. He was also unaware of the previous confrontation between the two parties. Standridge wrote that Miller didn’t get out of his car and had already parked his car when Johnson’s jeep pulled up behind him, thereby not intentionally blocking its exit.
Miller, whose windshield was hit by gunfire, left when the shooting started.
“All of the events described above are clearly captured on video,” Standridge wrote. “There is no dispute about Brandon’s activities during this evening.”
Following the police testimony, Tide coach Nate Oats said the school had known about it, adding that Miller was in the “wrong spot at the wrong time.”
On Tuesday night, Oats clarified what he called “unfortunate remarks.”
“We were informed by law enforcement of other student-athletes being in the vicinity, and law enforcement has repeatedly told us that no other student-athletes were suspects,” Oats said. “They were witnesses only. Our understanding is that they have all been fully truthful and cooperative. “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.”
Miller, a 6-foot-9 small forward, is the highest-ranked NBA prospect playing in college this season, projected to go No. 5 overall in ESPN’s latest 2023 NBA draft rankings. He’s averaging 18.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and shooting 42.9% from 3-point range for the No. 2 Tide (23-4, 13-1 SEC).