LiAngelo Ball and two other players have been forced to remain in China as the UCLA basketball team left Chinese territory to head home this weekend. The players were not allowed to leave after being arrested and charged last week with shoplifting.
Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill, and Cody Riley were forced to remain at the team hotel, the Hyatt Regency in Hangzhou, while the rest of the team boarded a plane to fly back to California on Saturday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
LiAngelo’s father, LaVar Ball, also stayed behind as the players face the Chinese legal system after being accused of stealing designer sunglasses from a shopping mall in Hangzhou.
Chinese officials allowed the players to go free on bail instead of staying incarcerated while the indictment is prepared, a move rarely afforded Chinese citizens.
But, according to some, the charges are very serious and could result in prison terms of as long as ten years. Ominously, conviction rates for theft in the Chinese system reach 99.2 percent, according to Hong Kong-based researcher William Nee.
Even worse for the players, sources have told ESPN that there is store surveillance video from several other stores showing the teenagers shoplifting various items:
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.
School officials are staying tight-lipped about the charges saying only that they are “aware of the situation” and are “co-operating fully with local authorities” on the investigation.
Bruins coach Steve Alford also refused to offer a statement on the incident.
Ball’s father, LaVar Ball, initially waved off the charges saying “it ain’t that big a deal.” But soon he announced he was not going to say any more about the arrests under advice from legal counsel.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.