Report: UCLA players accused of shoplifting at three stores, will stay in China when team flies home

Scott Phillips
NBC Sports

Things aren’t getting much easier for the three UCLA men’s basketball players arrested and accused of shoplifting in China earlier this week.

According to a report from ESPN’s Arash Markazi, citing a source close to the situation, UCLA freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill will likely have to stay behind in China for “a week or two” while the team flies home after Friday night’s season-opening win over Georgia Tech.

Ball, Riley and Hill were arrested on shoplifting charges on Tuesday as they were accused of allegedly stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team’s hotel in Hangzhou. Both teams participating in the China game were staying in the same hotel earlier this week before moving to Shanghai, where the Pac-12 China Game was played. All three were released on bail early Wednesday morning as they’ve been forced to stay at the Hyatt Regency in Hangzhou with a UCLA representative while the legal process plays out.

Making matters potentially worse for the three arrested Bruins are new details that more stores could be involved in a potential shoplifting spree. According to Markazi’s report, there could be surveillance footage of the UCLA trio shoplifting from two more stores besides the Louis Vuitton store in the high-end shopping center that includes Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Salvatore Ferragamo stores.

If these new details prove to be true, then this looks even worse for the arrested trio as the one shoplifting incident wouldn’t be an isolated thing.

The UCLA players do have some key local support from Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, the presenting sponsor of the Pac-12 China Game. Alibaba’s executive vice chairman and co-founder Joe Tsai has been vocal in his support of eventually releasing the arrested UCLA trio as both teams toured the company’s facilities on Monday. Tsai recently reached an agreement in principle to purchase a 49 percent minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets, as he’s a big basketball fan who has been a large part of the Pac-12 having a game in China.

The Pac-12 and Alibaba also announced an extension for the Pac-12 China Game through 2020 with the company remaining the main sponsor. Next year’s Pac-12 China Game was also announced on Friday as Cal will face Yale.

Alford refused to comment to reporters about the arrests after UCLA’s win over Georgia Tech on Friday night.

 

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