By Zach Backiewicz, ’19
On Nov. 7 three UCLA basketball players were arrested for shoplifting in Hangzhou, China. Freshman LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill, and Cody Riley were all involved in the situation while UCLA was playing Georgia Tech in the Pac- 12 China Game. However, these players were not able to participate as they had to stay one night at the police station.
According to UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, the freshmen stole items from three shops near their hotel on the evening of Nov. 6 during a block of free time. The next morning, police arrived at their hotel and interviewed players and searched their bags. “Ball, Hill, and Riley were then taken to a police station,” said Guerrero, and were “freed on the morning of Nov. 8 on $2,200 bail”. The players later had to surrender their passports and agree to travel restrictions while the team continued its international trip. Students at the high school such as Junior Jake Cannon were surprised when they heard the news.
“I originally thought they didn’t steal anything,” Cannon said. “If they did it was stupid on their part for stealing and getting caught, especially since there college basketball players for UCLA”
During the whole situation, President Trump took to Twitter to discuss how he intervened and helped out the players. President Trump took full responsibility for helping out the three UCLA basketball players by saying, “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you, President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!”.
“Trump did the right thing about talking with China’s President to help the players get released from jail, Cannon said. They did the right thing about getting the players back into the United States”
However, on a more positive outlook, Trump also tweeted later,”To the three UCLA basketball players I say: You’re welcome, go out and give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China who made your release possible and, HAVE A GREAT LIFE! Be careful, there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!”.
Recently, LaVar Ball, father of LiAngelo Ball pulled his son from UCLA. Ball has said his goals are now to prepare his son for the upcoming NBA draft. However, Ball has received a lot of criticism for pulling his son out as LiAngelo was not regarded to be drafted this year and also for possibly ruining his opportunities to play basketball at UCLA or receive scholarships from other schools.
“I didn’t really think much about. I mean it’s kind of stupid that he won’t be able to play in college especially since he probably wasn’t going to go to the NBA,” said Cannon. I have no clue what [LiAngelo] will do now.”
As of now, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill are still suspended indefinitely, as their length of suspension will be announced in the near future. Many people believe the incident will not only influence the success of UCLA’s team this year, but also the treatments towards the players and college basketball as a whole.
“There might not be any more international trips for college basketball,” Cannon said. Also, the players might get watched over more to make sure they are safe.”
For now, the remaining two UCLA freshman who was arrested in China will await the length of their suspension and the media will continue to follow the new situation involving LiAngelo Ball. UCLA will, however, continue on with their season as they begin conference play in the PAC 12 in the upcoming weeks.