Cody Riley may off to the pros without ever playing in an actual college game.
The LA Times’ Ben Bolch reported on Tuesday that Riley, the UCLA freshman who was involved in the notorious shoplifting scandal in China last year, has declared for the NBA draft. Riley’s name is on a list of 236 players who filed as early entry candidates, which was released by the NBA earlier in the day.
The 20-year-old Riley, a 6-foot-10 forward, appeared in just one exhibition game for the Bruins last season before he was involved in the overseas incident along with fellow freshmen LiAngelo Ball and Jalen Hill. Riley and Hill were ultimately suspended by the school for the remainder of the season as a result. Meanwhile, Ball, who instead chose to withdraw from UCLA, is now playing professionally in Lithuania and is also listed as an early entry candidate for the draft. Hill’s status for the future remains unclear.
Bolch also adds that Riley is not believed to have hired an agent, meaning that he could still potentially return to school if he withdraws his name from draft consideration by May 30. However, Riley would probably be stuck on the depth chart behind this incoming star forward should he return to UCLA.
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In a statement released Friday, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley, both accused of shoplifting, will be suspended indefinitely for the remainder of the 2017-18 basketball season.
UCLA's Jalen Hill and Cody Riley will remain suspended indefinitely for the rest of the 2017-18 season, per release.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) December 22, 2017
The third player involved in the legal issues, LiAngelo Ball, is no longer with the program. Perhaps father LaVar had an inkling that something like this was coming. LiAngelo would have almost certainly been subjected to the same punishment had he not been pulled out of school. Instead, he and his younger brother will be playing overseas in the new year.
The three UCLA Bruins freshmen who had remained in China after being arrested for allegedly shoplifting flew home and arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday evening, where they were mobbed.
Reporters were all over the scene at LAX when the players arrived and had cameras and flash photography ready. You can get a sense of what the scene was like from the video below.
Bonkers seen at LAX as the 3 UCLA basketball players accused of theft in China return to the states pic.twitter.com/oqQaKZ8iy4
— Chris Law (@ChrisLaw) November 15, 2017
This video gives an even better taste of it, though it does have some profanity midway through.
— Tom (T.J.) Wait (@CBSLATom) November 15, 2017
The three players — LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill — were being held in China with their case pending after being caught on video allegedly shoplifting from three stores nearby their team hotel. UCLA had traveled to China to face Georgia Tech in their season-opening game on Saturday, which they won. The three players were on a house arrest type of situation at the team hotel, did not play in the game, and did not fly back with the rest of the team.
They were lucky that President Donald Trump happened to be in China and was able to help negotiate their release. The players were able to escape with the charges being dropped.
As you can tell from the video, the players appear to have been scared straight and were silent when faced with all the questions.
There is no doubt about it — the three UCLA players screwed up big time. And now the players may be facing additional charges.
UCLA Bruins freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were arrested earlier this week on shoplifting charges in China, where their team spent the week prior to Saturday’s opener against Georgia Tech.
But things have gotten worse.
ESPN’s Arash Markazi reports that there is surveillance footage of the players shoplifting from three stores inside a shopping center in Hangzhou.
A source familiar with the investigation says there is surveillance footage of the players shoplifting from three stores inside of a high-end shopping center next to the team’s hotel in Hangzhou, which includes Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Salvatore Ferragamo.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) November 11, 2017
Initial reports said they shoplifted from one store.
The situation is bad enough where the three players will not fly back to the U.S. with the rest of their team. They could remain in China for a week or two.
LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill will remain in Hangzhou and not be on the UCLA team flight back to Los Angeles on Saturday night, multiple sources tell ESPN. They could be in Hangzhou for "a week or two" according to another source familiar with the investigation.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) November 11, 2017
The Bruins players are currently under a version of house arrest where they are mostly limited to staying around the team hotel until the matter is sorted out.
The accusations are a huge embarrassment for the players, their families and the university. Even former Bruin Bill Walton ripped them on national TV for what they had done.
LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill picked a really bad country to get into trouble.
The three UCLA Bruins basketball players were arrested in China on suspicion of shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store near their hotel in Shanghai. They are in China to face Georgia Tech in their season opener this weekend.
Following news of the arrests, Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel did some analysis of the potential legal consequences. He was told the athletes could face 3-10 years if convicted.
Here’s what China’s criminal law code says about theft:
Those who steal relatively large amounts of public or private property and money or have committed several thefts are to be sentenced to three years or fewer in prison or put under criminal detention or surveillance, in addition to fines; or are to be fined. Those stealing large amounts of property and money or involving in other serious cases are to be sentenced to three to 10 years in prison, in addition to fines. Those stealing extraordinarily large amounts of property and money or involving in especially serious cases are to be sentenced to 10 years or more in prison or given life sentences, in addition to fines or confiscation of property. Those falling in one or more of the following cases are to be given life sentence or sentenced to death, in addition to confiscation of property:
(1) Those stealing extraordinarily large amounts of money and property from financial institutions;
(2) those committing serious thefts of precious cultural relics.
The legal expert with whom Wetzel spoke obviously believes the potential theft could fall into the second category for “large amounts of property”, leading to 3-10 years in prison. If their alleged left falls in the first category, they could be sentenced to three years or fewer and fined; or they could be fined.
Another issue is that the players could be detained until prosecutors decide whether to press charges. That process reportedly often takes 30-37 days.
Representatives from UCLA or the US government, or any involved lawyers would have to work to free the athletes from being detained and resolve the case.
The UCLA men’s basketball team’s trip to China isn’t off to the greatest start.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported Tuesday that three UCLA freshmen, LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill, were arrested for shoplifting in China. The Bruins are in Shanghai to open up the season against Georgia Tech on Friday.
BREAKING: UCLA frosh LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley & Jalen Hill arrested for shoplifting in China, sources told ESPN. Bruins play Ga Tech Friday https://t.co/k64IDyO81E
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) November 7, 2017
“We are aware of the matter involving UCLA student-athletes and we are gathering more information,” UCLA team spokesman Alex Timiraos said in a statement. “The University is cooperating fully with local authorities on this matter, and we have no further comment at this time.”
Ball, the second-oldest of the famous Ball brothers, is obviously the biggest name here. But Riley, who could start at the 4 for the Bruins this season, and Hill, who could play a key role off the bench along with Ball, are impact players as well, so this definitely isn’t good news for Steve Alford’s program.
Image via LiAngelo Ball on Instagram