UCLA basketball players arrested in China a day before Trump visit: reports

(Reuters) - Three UCLA men’s basketball players were arrested in China for shoplifting on Tuesday, a day ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s first official visit there, according to several media reports.

The players arrested were freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, according to USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and ESPN, all of which cited unnamed sources familiar with the incident. Ball is the younger brother of National Basketball Association rookie Lonzo Ball of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The University of California, Los Angeles, declined to confirm the arrests.

“We are aware of a situation involving UCLA student-athletes in Hangzhou, China,” UCLA Athletics said in a statement provided by spokeswoman Shana Wilson. “The university is cooperating fully with local authorities on this matter, and we have no further comment at this time.”

The three players were questioned about stealing from a Louis Vuitton store next to the hotel where the team is staying, ESPN reported.

Reports of the arrests come as Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to host Trump in Beijing on Wednesday after the U.S. president finishes his visit to Seoul.

White House officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The UCLA team arrived in Shanghai on Sunday ahead of the game on Friday, when it will play Georgia Tech in both teams’ regular-season opener, according to statements from both teams.

Three players from Georgia Tech were questioned by authorities in China on Tuesday at their hotel in Hangzhou, China, but later released by police, Georgia Tech athletics spokesman Mike Flynn said in a statement.

“During the questioning, it was determined that Georgia Tech student-athletes were not involved in the activities being investigated. They have resumed their scheduled activities,” Flynn said.

Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Ben Klayman and Matthew Lewis

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