How will NBA personnel handle Alabama star Brandon Miller being linked to a fatal shooting? | Zagsblog
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Wednesday / May 22.
  • How will NBA personnel handle Alabama star Brandon Miller being linked to a fatal shooting?

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    On Tuesday, it was reported that Alabama star Brandon Miller brought the gun that ultimately led to the murder of Jamea Jonae Harris last month near the school’s campus.

    Miller, a 6-foot-9 freshman forward, is averaging 18.7 points and 8.0 rebounds and is a projected NBA lottery pick. He has not been charged with any crime — and there is no evidence he will be.

    Tuscaloosa chief deputy D.A. Paula Whitley told AL.com, “There’s nothing we could charge him with,’’ according to the law.

    Miller’s now former teammate Darius Miles and 20-year-old Michael “Buzz” Davis are facing capital murder charges.

    On Wednesday, Jim Standridge, Miller’s Alabama-based attorney, issued a statement, which said in part that the “legal handgun” belonged to Miles and that he “left it in the back seat of Brandon’s vehicle” before later texting Miller and asking “him to bring him his firearm.”

    “Brandon never touched the gun, was not involved in its exchange to Mr. Davis in any way, and never knew that illegal activity involving the gun would occur,” the statement says.

    Standridge added: “Brandon did not block the jeep driven by Mr. Johnson. Brandon had already parked on Grace Street when the jeep pulled up beside him. The street was never blocked by Brandon’s vehicle.”

    Alabama also issued a statement which concluded that Miller “remains an active member of our team” and presumably won’t face any suspension.

    We checked in with various NBA personnel and NBA agents to get feedback on how the situation could impact Miller’s draft stock and future, and there were a diverse array of opinions.

    First off, several of them expressed surprise that Alabama coach Nate Oats — whose team is ranked No. 2 nationally and is a legitimate contender to win the program’s first NCAA championship — has not suspended Miller for his involvement.

    “He has to get suspended if he provided the gun,” one veteran NBA agent said.

    Said a second league source: “Suspending Miller is in everybody’s best interest, including the kid. They need to demonstrate some form of order.”

    Longtime ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes Tweeted ahead of Alabama’s game with South Carolina Wednesday night (9 p.m., ESPN2), “Will @AlabamaMBB play Brandon Miller tonight?

    (Miller ended up playing and scoring a career-high 41 points amid chants of “Lock him up” and “Guilty.”)

    Oats initially said Tuesday that Miller is “not in any trouble” because of his involvement.

    “We knew about that,” Oats said. “Can’t control everything everybody does outside of practice. Nobody knew that was going to happen. College kids are out, Brandon hasn’t been in any type of trouble nor is he in any type of trouble in this case. Wrong spot at the wrong time.”

    After the Alabama coach received massive blowback, including columns on USA Today and The Sporting News, he issued a revised statement to walk back his original one.

    “I thought it was important for me to clarify the unfortunate remarks I made earlier,” he said. “This entire time I’ve tried to be thoughtful in my words relative to this tragic incident, and my statements came across poorly.

    “We were informed by law enforcement of other student-athletes being in the vicinity, and law enforcement has repeatedly told us that no other student-athletes were suspects—they were witnesses only. Our understanding is that they have all been fully truthful and cooperative.

    “In no way did I intend to downplay the seriousness of this situation or the tragedy of that night. My prayers continue to go out to Jamea Harris’s family.”

    Second, several NBA personnel and agents said either that the incident wouldn’t impact Miller’s draft stock, or that it was too early to tell and things needed to play out legally and from a PR perspective.

    “No impact at all NBA Draft wise,” one NBA executive said flatly.

    Added another NBA scout: “Love Brandon. If he’s not in any legal trouble, would love to have him.”

    Others said the process would have to play out.

    “It’s probably too early to tell,” a third league source said. “This is one of those situations teams will investigate thoroughly on their own. They have the resources and will take a deep dive. The legal part of it is only one issue. They will delve into his character, his associations, his background.”

    Various NBA agents echoed similar sentiments.

    “I’m not sure how much it will hurt” his stock,” one agent said. “The league will fall back on what, or if he’s charged with.”

    Said yet another agent: “I don’t think it’s going to affect his stock much when all is said and done, but it needs to get sifted through.”

    He added: “All the intel I’ve ever heard on Brandon is really positive.”

    Still another agent said the incident “can’t help” Miller’s stock.

    “But honestly it either does significantly, or it doesn’t much at all,” the agent added. “[There is] probably no in between. It will depend on the details as they are unearthed, and the general public perception over time.

    “But [it’s] a really bad look for the school and program regardless.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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