Southern California

3 UCLA Men's Basketball Players Arrested in China

ESPN reported that freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were involved in a shoplifting incident

Three UCLA men's basketball players were arrested Tuesday for allegedly shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store in China, where the team is scheduled to open the season Saturday against Georgia Tech, NBC News confirmed.

Citing unidentified sources, ESPN reported that freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were involved in a shoplifting incident. Ball is the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball. Their father, LaVar Ball, is also in China and told ESPN that he was "going to wait until I get more intel on what's going on" before commenting.

A spokeswoman for the Hangzhou police told NBC News that three players were being detained and would be released or charged within 48 hours of their arrest. ESPN reported the players were released on bail late Wednesday (local time). NBC News has not independently confirmed that report.

"We are aware of a situation involving UCLA student-athletes in Hangzhou, China," the school said in a statement. "The University is cooperating fully with local authorities on this matter, and we have no further comment at this time."

UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford said Wednesday he will sit the three players and declined to address the issue further.

"The University came out with a statement, so I won't have any further comment on this other than in answering that question — those individuals won't play on Saturday," Alford said during a press conference in Shanghai.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that police were called to the hotel where both teams were staying in Hangzhou and inspected UCLA's bus as players waited to depart for practice. Police interviewed players from both teams before clearing three players from Georgia Tech, according to a statement released by the school.

The teams were staying at the Hyatt Regency Hangzhou on Tuesday before leaving for Shanghai, where Georgia Tech and No. 21 UCLA are set to open the season.

The U.S. State Department said it is aware of reports that three U.S. citizens were arrested in China and "stand ready to provide appropriate, consular assistance for U.S. citizens."

All three players are from Southern California, part of a highly acclaimed recruiting class for the Bruins.

Ball averaged 33.8 points as a senior at Chino Hills High School. Riley is a power forward out of Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth. Hill attended Centennial High School in Corona. 

Georgia Tech officials said three of its players were questioned by authorities in China and released. 

"On Tuesday morning in Hangzhou, China, three Georgia Tech men’s basketball student-athletes were questioned by local authorities at their hotel," the school said. "During the questioning, it was determined that Georgia Tech student-athletes were not involved in the activities being investigated. They have resumed their scheduled activities in advance of Saturday’s season opener versus UCLA in Shanghai." 

The teams are playing at Baoshan Arena in the annual Pac-12 China game, in which a conference school plays another American opponent as part of the league's global initiative, The Associated Press reported.

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