NCAAM Teams
Arash Markazi, ESPN Senior Writer 12d

Three UCLA players could remain in China 'a week or two,' source says

Men's College Basketball, UCLA Bruins

SHANGHAI -- The three UCLA men's basketball players arrested on shoplifting charges Tuesday will remain in Hangzhou, China, and are not with the team on its flight back to Los Angeles after the Bruins' season-opening 63-60 win overĀ Georgia Tech in Shanghai on Saturday, sources told ESPN.

The three players -- freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill -- were questioned about allegedly stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team's hotel in Hangzhou, where the Bruins had been staying before leaving for Shanghai on Tuesday. They were released on bail early Wednesday morning and have been staying at a lakeside hotel in Hangzhou since then while the team had been in Shanghai preparing for Saturday's game. They remained there as of Saturday night along with a team representative.

A source with firsthand knowledge of the investigation said the players could be in Hangzhou for "a week or two." The source noted that there is surveillance footage of the players shoplifting from three stores inside of a high-end shopping center, which houses Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Salvatore Ferragamo stores.

Bruins coach Steve Alford declined to discuss the matter after the team's win.

Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo BallĀ -- LiAngelo's brother -- on Saturday said his father LaVar called him Friday night and told him the family is staying in China with LiAngelo and that "we are handling it out here, so that's a good sign."

Hangzhou police arrived early Tuesday morning at the Hyatt Regency, where UCLA and Georgia Tech were staying ahead of their game, and questioned three players from each team. Team representatives and interpreters were with the players during that time, according to a source.

Afterward, LiAngelo Ball, Riley and Hill were taken to the police station in Hangzhou, where they were kept for a number of hours. UCLA representatives, including Alford, were at the police station along with the players.

Ball, Riley and Hill were released around 4 a.m. local time Wednesday and returned to the Hyatt Regency, where they have remained since, along with a UCLA representative, according to a source. They are being required by Hangzhou police to remain at the hotel until the legal process is over, the source said.

Alford rejoined the rest of UCLA's team in Shanghai on Wednesday morning after the players were released.

During the investigation, the school and Pac-12 Conference have been receiving assistance from Chinese e-commerce goliath Alibaba, the presenting sponsor of the Pac-12 China Game. On Monday, UCLA and Georgia Tech received a tour of Alibaba in Hangzhou and met Joseph Tsai, the executive vice chairman and co-founder of Alibaba.

Tsai, who recently reached an agreement in principle to purchase a 49 percent minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets that includes the option to acquire controlling interest of the NBA franchise in 2021, splits his time between Hangzhou and La Jolla, California, where his wife and children reside. While talking to UCLA players at Alibaba on Monday, he made it a point to single out freshman guard Jaylen Hands and tell him he watched him play the Bishop's School while Hands was at Foothills Christian last year.

"Every young person makes mistakes, but the key point is how they will handle it after making the mistake," Tsai said before the game Saturday. "I think sometimes things can be very complicated, and the last couple of days I've seen firsthand professionalism on all sides."

Before the game in Shanghai on Saturday, the Pac-12 announced that next year's China Game would be a matchup between Cal and Yale; Alibaba extended its sponsorship of the game through 2020.

"I'm certainly disappointed that we don't have three UCLA students here to compete in the game today, given that they were involved in an incident that's being investigated in Hangzhou," Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said Saturday before the game. "It has provided a real distraction and unwanted publicity, which distracts from what overall has been a tremendous experience and a tremendous week for the UCLA and Georgia Tech students. It has also highlighted the value of our partnership. We've received tremendous support from our partners at FUSC [Federation of University Sports of China] and Alibaba. We've had a chance to apologize for the unwelcome attention it has brought.

"There's nothing new. We're monitoring the situation and staying in close contact with the students until the situation, and we hope the situation resolves itself soon."

LaVar Ball, and LiAngelo's brother LaMelo Ball, who have been in China, visited LiAngelo on Thursday. UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero visited all three players Friday.

The Ball family has been staying at the UCLA team hotel in Shanghai since Tuesday night and is being filmed while in China for the Facebook reality show "Ball in the Family," which was renewed for a second season last month. The family is scheduled to leave Sunday morning for Hong Kong, where the family's Big Baller Brand is opening a pop-up shop on Tuesday. They opened a pop-up shop in Shanghai on Friday night, when a crowd of more than 100 fans lined up to get autographs and pictures with LaVar and LaMelo.

On Wednesday morning, LaVar had been expected to address the media from his hotel suite in Shanghai, but he said he was advised by legal counsel not to speak "due to the legal nature of the matter."

As he was leaving the hotel later Wednesday, LaVar said: "I'm going to wait until I get some more intel on what's going on, and then I can tell you what's up."

Asked if he was worried about LiAngelo, LaVar said, "He'll be fine. He'll be fine. Everybody making it a big deal. It ain't that big of a deal."

Lonzo Ball on Saturday said his father's call put his mind at ease, though his father "didn't leave me much information."

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