Sunday, February 23

UCLA suspends men’s basketball freshmen arrested in China from team

UCLA men’s basketball held a press conference Wednesday morning. Cody Riley, LiAngelo Ball and Jalen Hill admitted to shoplifting from three stores in China and apologized to the team, the university, their families and the public. They also thanked President Donald Trump for his involvement. (Michael Zshornack/Photo editor)

This post was updated Nov. 15 at 12:02 p.m.

Coach Steve Alford announced Wednesday morning that the three UCLA men’s basketball freshmen arrested in China will be suspended from the team indefinitely.

Cody Riley, LiAngelo Ball and Jalen Hill gave short prepared statements to the media, in which they admitted to shoplifting and apologized to the UCLA community, their families and the team. They also thanked Chinese authorities for treating them with respect and President Donald Trump and the United States government for intervening.

All three players reiterated they believe their crime does not reflect their characters. Alford said he thinks all three players are good young men who exercised an inexcusable lack of judgment.

“What I did was stupid, there’s just no other way to put it, and I’m not that type of person,” Hill said. “I don’t want to be known for this dumb mistake, I want to be known for my respectfulness and my love and passion for the game of basketball.”

Alford added the players will regain the trust of the team, UCLA Athletics and the public before they are reinstated. The players will not be allowed to work out or practice with the team, and are barred from traveling with the team to away games or suiting up for home games.

“These three young men will remain suspended indefinitely from our program as we work through the review process with the university’s Office of Student Conduct,” Alford said. “At some point, they may be permitted to join team workouts, practices and meetings, but that timeline is yet to be determined.”

Alford and Athletic Director Dan Guerrero announced that UCLA Athletics and the Office of Student Affairs are investigating the incident. Riley, Ball and Hill remain enrolled as students, and Alford said they will cooperate fully with the university’s review of the matter and will use this time to focus on academics.

Guerrero added that the bail for the three players was approximately $2,200, and the university self-imposed that the players had to stay in the team hotel in Hangzhou, China, while authorities investigated the crimes. All three players had their passports taken and have been placed under travel restrictions.

UCLA also provided the legal services and other resources to get the players released on bail and eventually out of the country.

“On what should have been a very positive, memorable trip for our entire team and for our university, their irresponsible actions overshadowed that opportunity,” Guerrero said.

None of the five participants in Wednesday’s press conference revealed if any UCLA players, coaches or representatives saw the reported surveillance video of Riley, Hill and Ball committing the crime.

No questions were taken at Wednesday morning’s presser.

Senior staff

Wang is a Daily Bruin senior staffer on the football and men's basketball beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor for the men's tennis, women's tennis and women's soccer beats. Wang was previously a reporter for the men's tennis beat.

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  • Emilia M.

    Intervention by the President…I hope that these guys realize how incredibly lucky they are, and that they learn from this.

    • Disqus

      If it had not been for the relationship the President and leader of China had not cultivated a relationship they could have ended up like the boy in NK. For anyone to think it is not a ” big deal” to steal in a foreign country” needs to wake up. I would be writing POTUS another thanks.

  • Jimmy F.

    Dumb move by young adults. The punishment shouldn’t be detrimental to their future/careers.

  • Freethinker

    Indefinite suspension is code for, they will be back this year and not face real consequences for their actions. The only justifiable punishment would be a forced redshirt year. Anything short of redshirting displays UCLA’s priority of win at all cost, principles be damn#d.

  • John

    I wonder how Under Armour and Toyo Tires like being the sponsors and backdrop for this press conference?

  • Sue Saunders

    Unbelievably bad decision making on the part of these young men but I’m happy UCLA didn’t throw them to the wolves. Young people do stupid things and to assume that kicking them to the curb because UCLA is too good for this kind of behavior strikes me as cruel.

  • Michael L. Cawley

    There needs to be justice, tempered with mercy. Expulsion is too extreme in my view. However, there needs to be consequences for their action. A one-year suspension, and the loss of their athletic scholarship. They would need to re-submit for the team next year — there may or may not be a spot for them. In my view, that expresses the seriousness of what they did (and it is a big deal) but gives them a path back to good standing.

    • theThinker

      I hate it when calls for calm are right.

      By the same token, I’ll address the elephant in the room. It is not unusual when young black males get together for them to make a joke of criminal activities. We all know about the “knockout game”. Most of us know about “wilding”. A couple years ago it was black youths that perpetrated a social-media coordinated robbery of a convenience store.

      My suggestion: the black community has to speak out against this youthful criminality. It’s making you guys look really bad.