Three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China are confined to their hotel as the legal process unfolds, reports ESPN. In theory, that could take months, depending on whether a formal investigation is launched, a Chinese law expert tells the Los Angeles Times. But the best bet is that LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill will get a warning, maybe a fine, and be allowed to return to the US with their team this week, reports USA Today, which talks to three other experts on the subject. The three players were accused of shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store near their hotel in Hangzhou, then released on bail Wednesday. Ball is the brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball.
“There’s no question that if the central authorities tell the Hangzhou authorities to handle the case a certain way, it will be handled that way,” says a George Washington University professor. "That always makes things a bit more complicated, but in this case I think the complication is likely to work for the players, not against them." The arrests coincide with President Trump's visit to China. The UCLA team is in the country to play its season opener Friday, though Ball, Riley, and Hill will no longer be in the lineup. In the worst-case scenario, the players face possible prison time. "He'll be fine, he'll be fine," Ball's father, LaVar, told reporters. LaVar Ball is in China with his wife and another son, LaMelo, being filmed for the reality show Ball in the Family. (Read more UCLA stories.)