Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
Where's the wave of backlash for Alabama?
Alabama head coach Nate Oats, left, talks with Brandon Miller (24) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, in Columbia, S.C. Alabama won 78-76. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
It is the most discussed sports story of this basketball season, and it seems most people outside of Alabama feel Brandon Miller is at least complicit in the death of Jamea Jonae Harris.
Details are slow to be released, most likely because Miller is a superstar basketball player for the Alabama Crimson Tide. He’s the leading scorer in the SEC and most likely a top-five pick in the next NBA Draft.
Here’s what we know, according to released court records:
Miller delivered a loaded pistol to teammate Darius Miles, who claims he handed it off to Michael Davis. Miles texted Miller he needed his joint (slang for gun).
Davis fired nine times at the car Harris and her boyfriend Cedric Johnson were sitting in. Harris, 23, was killed and left behind a 5-year-old son. Her boyfriend fired five shots at Miles and Davis, but Miller’s windshield was hit twice.
This happened in downtown Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Jan. 15, outside a club at 1:30 in the morning. Miller’s involvement wasn’t made public for 37 days.
The street it happened on was blocked by cars owned by Miller and teammate Jaden Bradley, according to news accounts on AL.com.
Miller and Bradley are freshmen who were 5-star recruits and both are starters for the Crimson Tide.
Head coach Nate Oats has said Miller was in the wrong place at the right time.
On Wednesday afternoon, the University of Alabama said Miller was an active member of the basketball team. He made the trip to South Carolina, where he scored 41 points in an overtime win Wednesday night.
Davis and Miles have been charged with capital murder.
That’s what we know, also assuming Alabama basketball players roam the streets freely all hours of the night and at least three of them are familiar with firearms.
The question that seems to have the public stymied is what if Miller hadn’t been a star basketball player, but a regular student, would the district attorney still say “there’s nothing we could charge [Miller] with?”
Does a No. 1 seed in in the NCAA Tournament, which would be the school’s first ever, have anything to do with Miller remaining on the team while players get suspended if they fight during a game?
Is this a horrible example of athletes being entitled because they are blessed with athleticism?
One thing is certain: No one should ever come back after the season is over and charge Miller with anything. The cold, hard truth is it could be very hard to prove he broke the law, as his lawyer has said, he didn’t even get out of the car that night.
Yet, is there any discipline within the Crimson Tide basketball program?
There apparently are no curfews and weapons are discussed openly among the players.
What no one seems to want to discuss is that a young lady is dead and her son doesn’t have a mother.
The focus, for now, is that Oats’ university legal counsel said the decision to allow Miller to play was a collective one, which means everyone from the president to the athletic director signed off on it.
Alabama had won eight games since Harris was killed in a shootout in downtown Tuscaloosa before information about Miller’s involvement was released.
How does that happen? Unless winning is more important than transparency.
The thing is, the University of Alabama won’t have any less applicants for admission because young people want to attend a school that wins championships, and the Crimson Tide do that in football better than anyone.
With Brandon Miller, Alabama has a chance to win a basketball championship, and without him it would be an institution that put the student body first.
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