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Alford is 'surprised' by Ball's departure

Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

LOS ANGELES--UCLA coach Steve Alford doesn't remember much about his final interaction with LiAngelo Ball as a member of the school's basketball team.

Alford recently saw the freshman shooting guard in the Mo Ostin Center or in Pauley Pavilion. He couldn't say for sure.

"Probably over the weekend, I would guess," Alford said Tuesday.

The farewell involving coach and player was unforgettable. It came Monday when Ball's father, LaVar, announced he was withdrawing his son from UCLA over dissatisfaction with the handling of the indefinite suspension LiAngelo and two other players were serving for shoplifting.

Alford learned of the withdrawal through media reports, having received no notification from LiAngelo or his family.

"If you're looking for one word I'd go with 'surprised,'" Alford said of his reaction, "because it's nothing that we saw coming."

 

Alford said he did not know whether LiAngelo had formally withdrawn from school. The coach indicated he was not concerned about LiAngelo's departure having a carryover effect with Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, the other freshmen who admitted to shoplifting from an upscale mall last month during the Bruins' season-opening trip to play Georgia Tech in Shanghai.

"I think each of them are individual cases," Alford said, "so I don't think it makes us worrisome that something else is going to happen."

Alford said he expected a decision on the length of the players' suspensions "sooner rather than later."

In his first interview since the shoplifting incident, LiAngelo suggested on NBC's "Today" show that he was following the lead of his teammates when he took items from the stores in Hangzhou, China.

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