Three UCLA basketball players are returning to the US after President Donald Trump reportedly negotiated their release from police in Hangzhou, China. The trio were accused of shoplifting. Whether they will face disciplinary action is still up in the air.
UCLA Bruins freshman basketball players LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were set to land in Los Angeles at 5:30pm local time Tuesday. They were detained in China before their annual season-opening Pacific-12 game against Georgia Tech in Hangzhou last week, KCBS reported, citing the university.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said the incident involving the three students “has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities,” AP reported. Scott went on to thank the White House, President Donald Trump and the State Department for efforts made to resolve what he called “the incident with authorities in Hangzhou, China.”
The commissioner added that UCLA also made “significant efforts” to resolve the situation for their three players.
UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford, the three players and athletic director Dan Guerrero will make their first public comments regarding the situation on Wednesday morning in Los Angeles. They will not take questions from the media, AP reported.
President Trump, who is on his way back from a 12-day Asian tour, said he personally intervened with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week about the three players.
“He was terrific, and they’re working on it right now. And hopefully everything is going to work out,” Trump said on board Air Force One, before word of the trio’s return appeared. “What they did was unfortunate. You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences. They [the Chinese authorities] do not play games.”
There has been no statement from UCLA about whether the three players will take part in the Bruins’ home opener against Central Arkansas on Wednesday night. Any discipline the players may face would be up to UCLA, AP reported.
Ball, Hill and Riley were released on bail last week, after getting arrested over allegations of shoplifting, NPR reported.
Police reportedly came to the players’ hotel and took them down to the precinct to be “questioned about stealing from a Louis Vuitton store next to the UCLA basketball team’s hotel in Hangzhou.” During the questioning, Ball, Hill and Riley were accompanied by interpreters and UCLA team representatives, according to ESPN.
The team’s trip to China would show how sport “can play a role to improve the world by having peaceful, friendly exchanges between people,” Commissioner Scott had said prior to the incident. “We’re happy the young men from UCLA and Georgia Tech will have a chance to experience that and I’m sure that will leave an indelible mark.”