Alford is 'surprised' by Ball's departure

Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

"We all went out one night and went through the malls, went to a Louis Vuitton store and people started taking stuff," LiAngelo said during the TV interview. "Then, me just not thinking and being with them, I took something too.

"We left just thinking we'll get away -- you know how kids think. I didn't realize till I got back to my hotel, I'm like, that was stupid. But by then it was too late. And then, sure enough, the next morning the police came and got us."

The players were questioned and put in jail "for a day and a half or something like that," LiAngelo said, before bail was posted and they returned to the team hotel. They were never formally charged before being allowed to return to the United States.

Asked about LaVar Ball's contention that UCLA coaches should have been more accountable for their players' whereabouts in China, Alford noted that players were not given wide latitude to roam.

"It's not like we turned 'em loose to go across town," Alford said. "They had a 90-minute window to walk around an area outside of the hotel. They were told not to go individually, so they were going to be in a group. And they're young adults, so how you carry yourself at 17 and 18, I think they know what's right and what's wrong."

None of the three UCLA players who spoke with the media Tuesday said they had been in touch with LiAngelo since his departure.

"I think he made the decision that he felt was the best for him, so you can never fault anybody on that," sophomore guard Prince Ali said. "At the end of the day, we're all still cool. I'll probably talk to him sometime tomorrow or even today."


LaVar Ball said during the TV interview that he intended to get LiAngelo into shape in preparation for the NBA draft, predicting that he would join his older brother Lonzo with the Lakers. Online betting site Bovada on Tuesday placed LiAngelo's odds of being excluded from the 2018 draft at 1-100.

Alford prepared the Bruins (7-1) to face Montana (5-3) on Wednesday night at Pauley Pavilion with the certainty that they will be without at least one of their suspended players for the balance of the season.

"We've played eight games to date without 'Gelo," Alford said. "I don't know if there's an adjustment to be made."

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