TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama men’s basketball coach Nate Oats called freshman forward Brandon Miller‘s pregame introduction routine of being patted down by a walk-on before heading to midcourt “not appropriate” after his team beat Arkansas 86-83 on Saturday.
“I don’t watch our introductions, I’m not involved with them, I’m drawing up plays during that time,” Oats said in his postgame news conference. “Regardless, it’s not appropriate. It’s been addressed and I can assure you it definitely will not happen again for the remainder of this year.”
Miller, who has done the same pat-down pregame introduction for games this season, continued the routine after Tuscaloosa Detective Branden Culpepper testified Tuesday that Miller brought now ex-teammate Darius Miles’ gun to him the night of the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris, after Miles texted and asked him to do so.
Culpepper’s testimony came during a preliminary hearing for Miles and Michael Lynn Davis, who face capital murder charges for the death of Harris. Investigators said that Miles, who has since been removed from the Crimson Tide program, admitted to providing the gun used in the fatal shooting, but Davis fired the weapon.
Miller has not been charged with a crime, and Tuscaloosa Chief Deputy District Attorney Paula Whitley told AL.com on Tuesday there’s “nothing we could charge [Miller] with.” Both Oats and investigators said Miller has cooperated with police.
Oats, after Alabama’s sports information director instructed media to ask questions about only the Alabama-Arkansas game, did respond to the one nongame question that was asked of him — whether or not he has reached out to the family of Harris at any point.
“Listen, to address it a little bit,” Oats said. “I apologize for my previous comments this week. We understand the severity of it all, but I’m following the administration’s lead on everything here, so we’re going to talk about the game is what they would like for me to talk about.”
Miller scored a team-high 24 points with six rebounds on Saturday and was largely cheered whenever he did something for the Crimson Tide. It’s a contrast from Wednesday night, when Miller was jeered on the road at South Carolina.
Later in Oats’ postgame news conference, in a question about the game, he was asked about Miller’s week.
“He’s one of the most mentally, if not the most mentally tough kid I’ve ever coached in my life and I’ve been coaching for a while,” Oats said. “While he completely understands the situation’s tragic and he takes it very seriously and he’s been cooperating the whole time, he’s also done a great job being able to focus on practices, games and just getting this laser focus where he’s dialed in to where his feet are at.”