Darius Miles Emerging as a Leader for Tide Hoops
Last season was a rough one for all of the men on Alabama's basketball team, but a few hard a particularly hard time. One of those few was Darius Miles. The 6-foot-6 forward from the nation's capital had some lofty expectations on his shoulders heading into his sophomore campaign and mostly failed to deliver on them. Off-court issues led to Coach Oats suspending him twice and caused his minutes to be limited when he was available.
Those issue seemed long behind him Friday when Alabama opened the end of their practice up to members of the media. Miles was extremely vocal on the practice floor. He could be heard echoing calls from his coach, encouraging the guys on his team during the scrimmage, and trying to get the guys on the bench to hype everyone on the court up. In essence, being the leader you need your most senior players to be.
"We had our end of season meetings with everybody on the team. You want to make sure their expectations are gonna somewhat match up with ours and different guys hit the portal after those meetings just to get in a spot that's good for them," Oats said. "Darius made it clear to the coaching staff that he really wants to be here. He loves Alabama."
"Last year, me and Coach Oats talked about just my everyday approach and he told me coming back I was gonna be a leader," said Miles. "It's just whether I lead in a negative or a positive way, and I'm just trying to lead in a positive way."
In addition to being a leader through how vocal and engaging he is, Miles was leading by example, too. Throughout practice, he made one hustle play after another on both offense and defense. He was doing a great job of locking his man off from the play when on defense and was using his long reach to get in the way of any shot he could, including one play where he knocked down two attempts from Noah Clowney back-to-back.
"Him and Jahvon have played two years each and Jahvon's not practicing right now so he's the only guy practicing right now that's played two years for us. So, while it's crazy to think he's the most veteran guy on the team, he is," said Oats. "Darius is naturally outgoing, talkative, he's been here the longest. It makes sense that he leads, we just need him to be consistent in his effort every day, and if he is, he can be that leader that you saw out there."
Miles has an excellent opportunity to be a leader both on and off the court from August 5-14 as the Tide head to Spain and France to play a series of international games. While the team is going there to play basketball, the trip represents an opportunity for the team to gel together after a tumultuous offseason of departures and arrivals.