Brandon Miller still appears to have strong support among Alabama fans.
But his questionable choice for a pregame handshake didn’t have the support of his head coach.
The Crimson Tide’s star forward and projected top-five NBA draft pick received raucous applause and cheers by the Alabama faithful before the team’s 86-83 win over Arkansas on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
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As he was introduced in the starting line-ups, however Miller pretended to be frisked by a teammate amid recent controversy surrounding the program.
“It’s not appropriate,” Tide coach Nate Oats told reporters after the game. “It’s been addressed and I can assure you it definitely will not happen again.”
Miller, a freshman from Antioch, Tenn., has been linked to the Jan. 15 shootout in Tuscaloosa involving former teammate Darius Miles and a friend of Miles’, Michael Davis. The shooting resulted in the death of 23-year-old mother Jamea Harris. Miles and Davis were charged with capital murder, and Miles has since been removed from the Crimson Tide basketball team. The case will go to a grand jury.
During pre-trial testimony on Tuesday, police accused Miller of bringing Miles’ gun to him prior to the fatal shooting after Miles texted him to do so and described a dispute that was underway. Miller allegedly had earlier dropped off Miles and Davis at a sports bar before returning, when Miles retrieved his gun from the back seat. Prosecutors said Miles has admitted giving the gun to Davis, who began shooting at a Jeep containing Harris and her boyfriend. Harris was struck and killed, while her boyfriend returned fire with his own gun before driving away.
Prior to Miles’ message to Miller, he and Davis allegedly clashed with Harris’ group after Harris rejected Davis’ advances. At least 11 bullets were fired in total, and Davis later told police that he was so drunk on tequila that he didn’t remember the incident.
The game Saturday was Miller’s first home game since the accusations against him were made public. He has returned to the court since the pre-trial testimony, although that was on the road in a 78-76 overtime win over South Carolina on Wednesday.
Despite being jeered with “Lock him up” chants, Miller scored a career-high 41 points in the win over the Gamecocks.
Miller is not listed as a suspect, and local prosecutors don’t plan on charging him with a crime. Still, Oats’ decision to let him continue playing has induced outcries around the country.
Harris’ parents called it “unimaginable” that Miller is still allowed to play.
Oats claimed he’s known about Miller’s role in the incident on Tuesday and has allowed Miller to stay on the court, raising eyebrows by seemingly downplaying it.
“We knew about that,” Oats said when asked about Miller allegedly bringing the gun to Miles. “Can’t control everything anybody does outside of practice. Nobody knew that was going to happen. … 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.”
Oats later clarified his remarks, and stressed the program is co-operating fully with the investigation.
The 6-foot-9 Miller is averaging 19.5 points and 8.0 rebounds a game this season. He finished with 24 points and six rebounds in the win Saturday.
This article was originally published at the New York Post and republished with permission.