UCLA Basketball Players Arrested In China, A Country Where Prosecutors Have 99.2 Percent Conviction Rate

A day ahead of Donald Trump’s visit to the country, three UCLA basketball players are arrested in China on suspicion of shoplifting. The players were in China with their team on a tour when 20 police officers showed up at their hotel in Hangzhou, about 100 miles outside of Shanghai.

The suspected shoplifting arrests involve a Louis Vuitton store, which is close to the hotel that the team is staying at while in China, according to NBC LA News. The Washington Post reports this morning that the players’ charges stem from the shoplifting charges involving sunglasses at the Louis Vuitton store. These charges can bring some hefty prison time if the three players are found guilty, up to 10-years in prison, reports Fox & Friends on Wednesday morning.

According to a source, the players were “scared” when police came to the hotel. The police “weren’t messing around” they took this matter very seriously.

One of the players arrested, LiAngelo Ball, is the brother of NBA Lonzo Ball, a rookie for the Los Angeles Lakers. All three of the players being held in China are freshmen on the UCLA team. Besides Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were also arrested on the charges of suspicion of shoplifting, reports NBC News.

Lavar Ball, who is LiAngelo’s father, is also in China for the opening of a pop-up store on November 10. He is also there for the upcoming reality show Ball in the Family, which is described as a “Facebook Watch reality show,” by NBC News today. Besides facing up to 10-years in prison if found guilty of these charges, Yahoo News reports, “The players may also be detained for more than a month, without access to an American-style bail hearing, while local prosecutors determine whether to bring charges.” They also report that Chinese prosecutors have a 99.2 percent conviction rate when it comes to crime.

According to William Nee, who is a Hong Kong-based researcher of the Chinese court system for Amnesty International, these players are facing a serious matter if they are charged. Nee said, “I would say they could be in quite a bit of trouble if they have solid proof that they shoplifted.”

Lavar Ball told reporters that his son will “be fine.” He also claimed that “everyone’s making it a big deal. It ain’t that big a deal.” It didn’t sound that way on Wednesday morning’s Fox & Friends show when they said if these players are convicted they “can reportedly spend up to 10 years in prison.”

Another new development in this story is that all three players are benched from playing in the upcoming Georgia Tech game on Saturday due to the charges, according to Fox & Friends today. According to NBC LA News, UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford declined any further comment other than to say that he “will sit the three players.”

According to NBC Channel 4 News, Alford said during a press conference in Shanghai.

“The University came out with a statement, so I won’t have any further comment on this other than in answering that question — those individuals won’t play on Saturday.”

A police bureau spokesperson out of Hangzhou told NBC News that the fate of the players will be known within 48 hours of their arrest when police will levy charges against the three players or release them.

The UCLA team is in China where they are scheduled to play a season-opener game as part of the Pac-12 college sports conference. That game is against Georgia Tech, whose players were also questioned in this incident. The Georgia Tech players were totally cleared in this incident after police spoke to them at the same time they questioned the UCLA players.

Despite being arrested and taken away by police from the Hangzhou Hyatt, the management said all three are still registered guests at the hotel.

Larry Scott, the commissioner of the Pac-12, expressed that he is disappointed after hearing the news of the three arrests. He also said the following in a statement.

“We are very disappointed by any situation that detracts from the positive student-athlete educational and cultural experience that this week is about. Whether in the United States or abroad, we expect student-athletes to uphold the highest standards.”

Update: LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill were released on bail Wednesday morning in China after Tuesday’s arrest for shoplifting, reports ESPN in a tweet below.

[Featured Image by Pierre E. Debbas/Shutterstock]