Rob Issa, FISM News
Alabama freshman Brandon Miller scored a career-best 41 points in a victory over South Carolina on Wednesday night, one day after police said he gave a former teammate a gun used in a fatal shooting near campus last month.
Miller is considered a “cooperative witness” and the school said he would remain an “active member” of the team because he’s not a suspect. The Crimson Tide are currently ranked No. 2 in the nation.
Gamecock fans at Colonial Life Arena booed Miller each time he touched the ball and chanted “Lock him up” and “Guilty!” throughout the game. Miller scored the decisive basket with 0.9 seconds left in overtime to give Alabama the 78-76 win over South Carolina.
Police say Miller is allegedly a witness in the shooting death of 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris in January. Tuscaloosa Police investigator Brandon Culpepper testified this week that Miller brought a gun to Darius Miles on the night of the shooting after Miles texted him and asked him to do so.
Miles and co-defendant Michael Lynn Davis were charged with capital murder in the shooting. Both men were ordered no bond Tuesday.
Miller’s attorney, Jim Standridge, said his client never handled the gun, which was owned by Miles. Prosecutors say Miles is accused of providing his gun to Michael Davis, who fired it and killed Harris.
“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,” Standridge said in a statement.
Standridge said in the statement that Miles asked Miller for a ride to a club. Standridge said Miles’ brought his “legal handgun and left it in the backseat of Brandon’s vehicle. Brandon never saw the handgun nor handled it.”
After Miles later texted Miller to bring him the gun, Miller never got out of his vehicle and was not part of the exchange with Davis, and did not interact with anyone in Harris’ party, according to Standridge.
Miles quickly drove off when gunfire took place, Standridge said. Miller “has fully cooperated with law enforcement’s investigation,” Standridge said, adding the events of the shooting are on video.
“There is no dispute about Brandon’s activities during this evening,” Standridge said.
The school releases a statement before the games, saying:
Based on all the information that 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 considered as part of its review of the facts. Based on all the facts that we have gathered, Brandon remains an active member of the team.
Alabama coach Nate Oats supported the decision to keep Miller, one of the best college players in the nation, on the team.
“Brandon hasn’t been in any type of trouble, nor is he in any type of trouble on this case,” Oats said Tuesday. “Wrong spot at the wrong time.”
After receiving backlash for his comment, Oats released another statement.
“I thought it was important for me to clarify the unfortunate remarks I made earlier,” he said. “In no way did I intend to downplay the seriousness of this situation or the tragedy of that night. 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 – they were witnesses only. Our understanding is that they have all been fully truthful and cooperative.”
After the game, neither Miller nor his teammates were available to the media.
“He’s one of the most mentally tough kids I’ve ever coached,” Oats said of Miller.
Miller leads the team in scoring, averaging 18.7 points per game, and is expected to be a potential lottery pick in the NBA draft later this year.