ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported on Tuesday that incoming UCLA freshman LiAngelo Ball was arrested in China. Ball, the middle child of Big Baller Brand founder LaVar Ball, was apparently among three UCLA basketball players who were charged with shoplifting.
UCLA is on a trip to Asia to play Georgia Tech on Friday. But now it seems the Bruins will need to attend to a serious legal matter involving three of their basketball players before they can worry about playing a game.
Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill are the three who reportedly ran afoul of the law in China, though there aren’t many details that were immediately known. All three freshmen were members of the Bruins’ 2017 recruiting class, which was ranked fifth nationally and second in the Pac-12 by 247Sports.
Both UCLA and Georgia Tech officials released statements on Tuesday, with Georgia Tech making it clear its student-athletes were not involved in any way. According to Goodman’s report on Tuesday the Bruins, however, were not so lucky.
One source told ESPN that nearly 20 police officers came into the Hyatt Hangzhou at approximately 8 a.m. local time Tuesday and spoke to multiple players from both Georgia Tech and UCLA. The players, according to the source, were kept in a room for hours and not allowed to speak to any of the coaches.
“They weren’t messing around,” the source told ESPN. “The kids were scared.”
Goodman’s sources confirmed the arrest of Ball and said LaVar did not immediately return a call requesting comment.
We won’t know what happened in China for some time, but it’s certainly a bad look for the LiAngelo Ball and UCLA. Universities take trips like this to promote themselves in a positive way, both by spreading the game of basketball abroad and by giving their students the opportunity to experience a new place. Obviously, having players pick up charges on the journey is not what anyone is hoping for when they get their passport stamped.