Hours after President Donald Trump said he intervened on behalf of three UCLA basketball players arrested for shoplifting last week in Hangzhou, China, freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill are returning to Los Angeles.
The Pac-12 Conference confirmed Tuesday morning that the trio is on a flight bound for LAX one week after getting arrested for allegedly shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to their hotel in Hangzhou. The Wall Street Journal was first to report the players were returning home.
“The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “We are all very pleased that these young men have been allowed to return home to their families and university.”
Scott thanked the local authorities for their professionalism and “the President, the White House and the U.S. State Department for their efforts towards resolution” in the statement.
Trump, who was visiting China last week on a tour of Asia, said he personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to assist on the matter.
“President Xi has been terrific on the subject,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One following the conclusion of his trip Tuesday.
“What they did was unfortunate,” Trump added. “You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences. They do not play games.”
Ball, Hill and Riley missed UCLA’s season opener against Georgia Tech in Shanghai while they were confined to the hotel under police surveillance. They will be back in the United States in time for the team’s home opener against Central Arkansas at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Pauley Pavilion.
Once they return, they could be subject to additional punishment by the team and head coach Steve Alford. The players, Alford and athletic director Dan Guerrero will address the media Wednesday morning.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said the school is looking into further punishment for the players.
“I want to be clear…