The only character concerns that arose when former Alabama basketball player Darius Miles was evaluated during his recruitment had to do with basketball, rather than personal character, Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats said Friday.
Miles is one of two men charged with capital murder in the shooting death of Jamea Jonae Harris, 23, early Sunday. He is being held without bail, and a probable cause hearing has been set for February 7.
Oats said Miles’ recruitment occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, which required contact via Zoom and phone calls rather than in person, but said he was confident in Miles’ character as a high school recruit.
“You get the typical, ‘He’s so talented, sometimes he might take plays,’ but that had nothing to do with his character off the floor at all. There were zero issues with character off the floor when we recruited him. And to Be honest with you, even when he was here, we had no real issues with him off the floor,” Oats said. “He was a likable kid, everybody liked (him). The only problems we ever had was trying to get him motivated to play a little harder in practice, be more consistent, just basketball stuff. Nobody saw this coming.”
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According to warrants released earlier this week, Miles told police he gave a handgun to Michael Lynn Davis before the shooting and that witnesses identified Davis as the shooter. Investigators believe the shooting stemmed from a minor argument between Harris, Miles and Davis.
Harris and an unidentified man were in a vehicle when she was killed by a single gunshot wound. The unidentified man returned fire, and The Tuscaloosa News has authenticated a video in which at least 11 shots can be heard in a shootout.
According to the bond petition filed on Miles’ behalf Thursday, he had no prior criminal history, according to his attorneys.
Oats said he tries to go deeper than the recommendations of high school coaches in evaluating the character of recruits.
“The coach usually doesn’t want to say anything (bad) about a kid, and we understand that. We get a little bit of an honest assessment from most coaches, but they want their kids to go to the highest level they can, if that makes sense . You get a little more honest when you start calling the teachers, the principals, the guidance counselors… We were at a school, me and Brian (Hodgson) were a couple of weeks ago in Ohio. We talked to the night They had practice at night, so he’s the one who’s around the team all the time when no one else is around. You find out a lot more about kids doing something like that.”
Oats also said he has briefed his team on how to handle the possibility that students or fans of other teams, during Alabama road games, might say disparaging things to players about the allegations against Miles. Oats said there were no such problems at the Crimson Tide’s game at Vanderbilt earlier this week. UA travels to Missouri on Saturday.
“If people want to be ignorant and say things that are completely out of line … this is not a case where somebody got into trouble lightly. These are serious matters. There’s a 5-year-old who doesn’t do that. has a mother anymore,” Oats said. “This is not, to me, something students should joke about. If somebody happens to say something, I told our guys, ‘You’ve got to be strong enough, tough enough, to just say ‘We’re here to play basketball.’ “
Reach Chase Goodbread at [email protected] Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread.