BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Brandon Miller sat in a folding chair in a corner of the locker room facing a collection of reporters and video cameras.
Alabama’s freshman All-American asked a few questions about his worst game in crimson and white, not with all the off-field affairs that have shadowed him and a team making a bid for the program’s first national championship.
Amid numerous distractions, the NCAA Tournament’s top overall dispatched 16th-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 96-75 on Thursday in the opening round, even as the top player went winless for the first time.
Miller, who responded politely but succinctly to questions about anything unrelated to the game, was accompanied by a university security guard after receiving threats since his presence at the scene of a fatal shooting was revealed in court testimony .
“It doesn’t bother me,” Miller said of the threats, which he forwarded to university officials. “I send it to the right people and they handle it.”
Miller entered the game averaging nearly 20 points.
The story is now well known to many college basketball fans. Miller and fellow freshman Jaden Bradley were on the scene in the early morning hours of January 15 when a 23-year-old woman, Jamea Harris, was shot and killed. The players’ teammate at the time, Darius Miles, was charged with capital murder along with another man.
According to police statements, Miller brought Miles’ gun to the scene. Miller’s attorney said Tide’s assailant was on his way to pick up Miles when Miles texted him asking him to take the gun. The attorney, Jim Standridge, said Miller never owned the gun and was unaware that criminal activity had been directed at it.
Miller, coach Nate Oats and the Alabama program have been faced with a constant barrage of questions ever since.
The night before Thursday’s game, a report published by The New York Times, citing an unidentified person, said a fourth player — freshman walk-on Kai Spears, who hasn’t played this season — was also at the scene. of the shooting. The university, Spears and his family called the report inaccurate and the family hired an attorney.
A spokeswoman for the New York Times told The Associated Press that the newspaper is sticking to its reporting. Police in Tuscaloosa did not reply to an email sent Thursday by The AP seeking comment on the report.
Miller and Bradley did not miss a single game, a decision that has given Oats and the Crimson Tide a lot of attention.
Oats announced Wednesday that Miller had received threatening messages.
“If you guys saw some of what I saw, you’d understand why that’s the case,” Oats said, referring to the guard given to Miller. “I don’t want to go into all that. The whole situation, as you know, is just a heartbreaking situation in every way.
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