3 Bruins head home after China scandal
LOS ANGELES — Three UCLA basketball players detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting have been allowed to return home, where they may be disciplined by the school as a result of the international scandal.
Freshmen LiAngelo Ball (the younger brother of Lakers guard Lonzo Ball), Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were on a plane to Los Angeles that was due to land late Tuesday afternoon after a 12-hour flight from Shanghai.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said the matter “has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities.”
The players were detained in Hangzhou for questioning following allegations of shoplifting last week before the 23rd-ranked Bruins beat Georgia Tech in their season-opening game in Shanghai as part of the Pac-12 China game. The rest of the UCLA team returned home Saturday.
A person with knowledge of the Pac-12’s decision said any discipline involving the three would be up to UCLA. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the conference doesn’t plan any sanctions.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said the school is weighing its options.
“I want to be clear that we take seriously any violations of the law,” he said in a statement. “In this particular case, both Athletics and the Office of Student Conduct will review this incident and guide any action with respect to the involved students. Such proceedings are confidential, which limits the specific information that can be shared.”
There was no immediate word on the three’s status for the team’s home opener Wednesday night against Central Arkansas.
The school said the three players, along with head coach Steve Alford and athletic director Dan Guerrero, will make their first public comments about the matter at a campus news conference Wednesday, but won’t take questions.
Scott thanked President Trump, the White House and the State Department for their efforts in resolving what he called “the incident with authorities in Hangzhou, China.” He indicated that UCLA made “significant efforts” on behalf of its athletes.
It wasn’t clear under what terms the players were freed to return to the U.S.
“We are all very pleased that these young men have been allowed to return home to their families and university,” Scott said.
Trump said Tuesday that he had a long conversation about the three players’ status with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.