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College Basketball

Nate Oats Has To Be Trying To Be This Clueless

Nate Oats
Eakin Howard/Getty Images

On the morning of Jan. 15, Jamea Harris was shot and killed in Tuscaloosa, Ala. while waiting for food in a car with her boyfriend and cousin. Two men, Michael Davis and Darius Miles, have been charged with murdering Harris. Police say that Davis fired the shots that killed Harris, using a gun provided to him by Miles, after getting into a confrontation with her and her boyfriend. Miles was a player on the Alabama men's basketball team at the time of the shooting, and new testimony claims that he was not the only team member at the scene of the killing. According to police testimony provided on Tuesday, freshman forward Brandon Miller initially brought the murder weapon to Miles.

Investigators had previously written in court documents that Miles had provided the gun to Davis, but Tuesday's testimony alleges that Miller assisted Miles. Det. Branden Culpepper testified that prior to the shooting, Miles contacted Miller and asked him to bring Miles's gun. Culpepper said that when Miller arrived at the scene, Miles told Davis, "The heat is in the hat," meaning that the gun had arrived, as well as, "There's one in the head," meaning that a round had been chambered.

Police say that just before the shooting, the car that Harris was in was blocked by two cars, one belonging to Miller and another belonging to Jaden Bradley, another Crimson Tide player. Police say that Davis and Miles walked over to Miller's car and retrieved Miles's gun from inside. Davis then approached the driver's side window of the car Harris was in and fired eight shots. Miller and Bradley have not been charged with any crimes.

Miller and Bradley's alleged presence at the shooting landed as a shock, given that they've both played in 27 games this season and Miller has become the Crimson Tide's best player and leading scorer. The team, which is currently ranked No. 2 in the country, seemed to have effectively moved on from the incident after Miles was arrested and dismissed from the university, though head coach Nate Oats was cagey when responding to questions about whether any other players besides Miles had been at the scene.

"All of us got together last night. It’s an ongoing investigation," Oats told reporters in January, in response to a direct question about whether any of his other players had been involved. "Our entire remaining team is traveling to Nashville and will be available to play in the game tomorrow."

Even after the testimony became public on Tuesday, Oats once again tried to downplay Miller's involvement. At a press conference the same day, Oats told reporters that Miller had just been in the "wrong spot at the wrong time." From

“We’ve known the situation since [it happened],” Oats said. “We’ve been fully cooperating with law enforcement the entire time. The whole situation is sad. The team closed practice with a prayer for the situation today, knowing that we had this trial today. We think of Jamea and her family, Kaine. Really think about her son, Kaine, that was left behind. So it’s sad.

“We knew about that. Can’t control everything anybody 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.”

Maybe you're wondering where Oats got the idea that it would be smart to describe his star player, who is now alleged to have delivered a loaded gun to the scene of a killing and helped block the victim's car, as someone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. You might find an answer in who Oats has talked to for advice. Right after Miles was arrested, Oats told reporters that he had sought counsel from Ray Lewis. Lewis, as evidenced by his long and successful NFL career, knows a thing or two about how to successfully downplay one's presence at the scene of a murder.

"I just thought he’s been through, you know, a tragic situation," Oats said at the time. "One of the more mentally tough athletes in my time. His daughter went to Alabama, so I was able to get his number. I talked to him. He didn’t talk to the team or anything. But he kind of talked to me. He’s a man of faith as well. Just kind of told me to share a little word with him, pray with him. That’s what they need right now."

On Tuesday night, Oats attempted to clarify his comments from earlier in the day, but in doing so once again downplayed his best player's alleged involvement in the shooting:

Alabama plays South Carolina tonight. Oats has until then to figure out how to address this in a way that doesn't make him look clueless.

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