Alabama is the No. 1 overall seed in the men’s NCAA Tournament, but no matter how far the Crimson Tide go, Brandon Miller and his involvement in a murder case needs to be addressed.
Alabama being the top overall seed in the men’s NCAA Tournament is going to be awkward and uncomfortable, and as long as Brandon Miller is playing, there’s no real way around that.
Last week, a grand jury indicted former Crimson Tide player Darius Miles and Miles’ friend Michael Davis on capital murder charges in the killing of 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris. Police interviewed the star freshman forward Miller — the 20-year-old SEC Player of the Year, SEC Rookie of the Year, and a projected top five pick in June’s NBA draft — along with teammate Jaden Bradley, as witnesses in the case. A Tuscaloosa police officer testified that Miller transported the firearm to Miles, which Miles ultimately used in the fatal shooting.
Miller and Bradley, who have not been charged in the case, have continued to play, and the 6’8 superstar Miller scored 23 points to go with 12 rebounds in ‘Bama’s 82-63 blowout of Texas A&M on Sunday to capture the SEC tournament championship. The first game after Miller’s involvement in this case came to light was a Feb. 22 ESPN matchup in Columbia against South Carolina. Gamecock fans chanted “lock him up,” which didn’t deter Miller in a 41-point performance including the game-winning bucket in overtime.
For that game, ESPN brought in veteran reporter Coley Harvey, who the network sent to Cincinnati to cover the Damar Hamlin story back in January, to detail the goings on within the Alabama program.
Alabama head coach Nate Oats hasn’t helped matters. He apologized last month after describing Miller’s situation as being in the “wrong spot at the wrong time.” Not long after that, Oats took responsibility for a pregame starting lineup routine in which teammate Adam Cottrell patted down Miller, appearing to check him for weapons.
“We addressed it as a team,” Oats said. “As soon as I brought it up to them, they immediately understood how it could be interpreted. We all felt awful about it. They explained to me, it’s like when TSA checks you before you get on a plane. Now Brandon is cleared for takeoff. We as the adults in the room should have been more sensitive to how it could have been interpreted. I dropped the ball. We’ve addressed it. I can assure you it won’t happen again.”
During Sunday’s selection show on CBS, Alabama’s introduction as the tournament’s top overall seed got uncomfortable really quickly.
As long as Alabama remains alive in the tournament — and the Tide have the second-best odds to win the national championship at +800 on FanDuel SportsBook — studio hosts, analysts, reporters, and players are going to have to awkwardly dance around a serious legal matter every time the team takes the court.
CBS/Turner’s top broadcast team of Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill, and Tracy Wolfson will be the first that has to address the situation on the tournament stage. They’ll be on the call Thursday at 2:45 p.m. ET on CBS in Birmingham as the Crimson Tide take on the winner of Tuesday’s play-in game between Southeast Missouri State and Texas A&M Corpus Christi. The eyes of the nation will be on that crew to not just to watch Brandon Miller and Alabama on the court, but to see how they handle the delicate situation of one of the country’s top players directly involved in a capital murder case.
Let’s just say it won’t be the easiest subject matter to discuss.
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