College Player's Pre-Game Ritual Seen as Awful Timing

Alabama's Brandon Miller undergoes a fake pat-down, even after link to fatal shooting
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2023 6:09 AM CST
College Player's Pre-Game Ritual Comes Under Fire
A teammate simulates patting down Alabama forward Brandon Miller during introductions of an NCAA college game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023.   (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Before his team's win on Saturday, star Alabama player Brandon Miller did his usual pre-game ritual: After his name was announced in the starting lineup, a teammate gave him a fake weapons pat-down. Watch it via video tweeted by WVTM sports anchor Ryan Hennessy. The problem? Last week, court testimony linked Miller to a fatal shooting, and his continued use of the pat-down is not sitting well with critics. Coverage:

  • The shooting: On Jan. 15, 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris was fatally shot in Tuscaloosa while sitting in a car, reports Miller faces no charges in the young mother's slaying, but prosecutors say he transported the gun used in the shooting. They say then-teammate Darius Miles (he has since been kicked off the team) texted Miller and asked him to bring him Miles' gun. Prosecutors say after Miller did so, Miles gave it to Michael "Buzz" Davis, who fired the shots that that killed Harris. Miles and Davis have been charged with murder. The shooting allegedly stemmed from a confrontation after a night out at a sports bar.

  • Coach's comment: Miller's role in the shooting did not come to light until a detective's testimony last week during a preliminary hearing, reports Sports Illustrated. Another Alabama player, Jaden Bradley, also was at the scene of the shooting. He has not been charged, either. When the revelation about Miller came to light, Alabama coach Nate Oats downplayed it as him being in the "wrong spot at the wrong time." The coach has since apologized for that. The team is not making Miller available for media interviews. During the shootout, bullets reportedly struck the windshield of his car.
  • The pat-down: Miller has been using the fake pat-down before games all season and didn't stop after Tuesday's testimony. Before Saturday, he used it during a road game against South Carolina on Wednesday, where opposing fans let loose chants of "Lock him up!" and "Guilty!" per the AP.
  • No more: Coach Oats addressed the pat-down after Saturday's game. "I don't watch our introductions," he said, per ESPN. "I'm not involved with them—I'm drawing up plays during that time. 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."
  • Criticism: At USA Today, Dan Wolken is incredulous that Alabama (ranked second in the nation) continues to let Miller play until all this is sorted out. Even if he faces no legal repercussions, he shouldn't escape all consequences just "because he's one of the best basketball prospects on the planet." Wolken asserts that Oats has been particularly inept at handling a sensitive situation. In the view of Pat Forde at SI, winning games clearly trumps all at the school. "Can anyone at Alabama show some class and accountability?"
(More college basketball stories.)

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