LOS ANGELES >> Three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China apologized today before coach Steve Alford announced they were being suspended indefinitely.
LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were described as “good young men” by Alford at a campus news conference.
The coach said the trio wouldn’t be allowed to suit up, practice or travel with the team while the university continues to sort out the circumstances of last week’s incident in Hangzhou, China.
Ball, Hill and Riley took turns acknowledging their actions and apologizing while also thanking President Donald Trump for intervening on their behalf with his Chinese counterpart. Athletic director Dan Guerrero also spoke, but no one took questions from a throng of media.
“I’m sorry for stealing from the stores in China,” said Ball, the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, who played last season at UCLA.
“I’ve learned my lesson from this big mistake and I’m a hundred percent sure I’ll never make a mistake like this again. It’s going to make a better person from here on out.”
Alford didn’t specify exactly what the indefinite suspensions mean, saying only that the three players would have to earn their way back onto the team.
He said at some point, the trio may be permitted to join team workouts, meetings and practices.
“We will come to a resolution in short order,” Guerrero said.
The No. 23 Bruins host Central Arkansas in their home opener on Wednesday night.
The players were detained in Hangzhou for questioning following allegations of shoplifting last week before the Bruins beat Georgia Tech in their season-opening game in Shanghai as part of the Pac-12’s series of games in China. The rest of the UCLA team returned home Saturday.
UCLA traveled to China as part of the Pac-12’s global initiative that seeks to popularize the league’s athletic programs and universities overseas. The China Game is in its third year, and while the scandal was developing the league announced that California and Yale will play in next year’s edition.