TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama basketball star Brandon Miller spoke Wednesday about being at the scene of a fatal shooting that killed a 23-year-old mother, saying he will “never lose sight of the fact that a family has lost one of their loved ones.”
Miller, in a week where he collected awards – and was snubbed for a big one – spoke to reporters for the first time since his name was linked to the Jan. 15 scene in Tuscaloosa where Jamea Harris was killed.
“This whole situation is just really heartbreaking, but respectfully that’s all I’m going to be able to say on that,” The Associated Press Southeastern Conference player and newcomer of the year said.
Ex-Alabama player Darius Miles is charged with capital murder in the shooting. Prosecutors say he provided the gun used in the shooting to another man, Michael Davis, who shot Harris. Davis is also charged with murder.
Miller’s name was brought up in court by authorities as having delivered the gun on the night of the shooting at Miles’ request. Freshman point guard Jaden Bradley was also at the scene, authorities said. Neither have been charged with a crime.
Alabama has said its star forward is a cooperating witness, not a suspect. Neither Miller nor Bradley have been held out of a game.
Miller’s attorney has said the gun was in the back of Miller’s vehicle, and that the Tide star didn’t see or handle it.
With Miller and Alabama preparing for the SEC Tournament and NCAA Tournament, it’s hard for either to separate the accolades and success from Harris’ death.
A likely No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed, Alabama won the regular season SEC title and opens its bid to win the league tournament as well on Friday in Nashville, Tennessee. Miller is a projected Top-5 pick in the NBA draft.
On Wednesday, he was named one of five finalists for the Julius Erving Award given to the top small forward in Division I. However, he wasn’t one of the 15 finalists for the Wooden Award given to the nation’s top player.
Miller didn’t shed much light on what recent weeks have been like for him ahead of his return to his hometown, Nashville.
Asked about playing amid the chants such as “Guilty” and “Lock him up” from opposing fans, Miller said “we hear the chants.”
“I feel like we just really lean on each other. Just go to places like that and try to pull out tough wins,” he said.
Miller was also asked whether he received advice to withdraw from school and begin preparing for the NBA draft.
“I mean, I hear a lot of people in my ears … I just lean on these guys next to me and build me up to the person I am now,” he said. Miller said he wants “to be remembered as a champion” at Alabama.
Miller is the first SEC player to win both player and freshman of the year honors as bestowed by the league since Kentucky’s Anthony Davis in 2012. He’s averaging an SEC-best 19.6 points a game.
Teammate Jahvon Quinerly said the team has stuck together through the adversity “and we just made sure that (Miller) was good.”
Alabama coach Nate Oats said Miller has “taken this whole situation very seriously from Day One.” He did order Miller to stop his pre-game ritual where a teammate patted him down during introductions.
“It’s a tough situation for all of us, and it’s just sad, to be honest with you,” Oats said. “But I never thought Brandon was flippant with any of it, ever. So as far as off the court goes, not necessarily huge changes, but I didn’t think there needed to be any big changes.
“He’s a great kid that, we’re all going through a tough situation together and we’re trying to lean on each other through this deal.”