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#pounditSunday, September 27, 2020

Articles tagged: UCLA Basketball

UCLA player involved in shoplifting scandal declares for NBA draft

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.

Top UCLA assistant ‘very shocked’ by dismissal

David Grace is out at UCLA after five seasons as a top assistant on Steve Alford’s staff, and it is safe to say he was pretty blindsided by the news.

Grace, who had served as Alford’s lead recruiter and helped the Bruins field multiple top freshman classes during his tenure, was reported on Saturday to have been let go. After word leaked out, Grace told Ben Bolch of the LA Times that he was “very shocked” by his dismissal, which he was notified of at the end of March. He also hinted at some displeasure over the way Alford handled the situation and pointed to his recruiting successes to justify his surprise.

Grace arrived at UCLA in 2013, the same time Alford was hired as head coach. Among the recruits he successfully lured to Westwood were Zach LaVine, Kevon Looney, Lonzo Ball, Aaron Holiday, Jaylen Hands, Kris Wilkes, and most recently, Shareef O’Neal. Should the Bruins be unable to compensate for Grace’s recruiting talents, Alford may just end up losing even more support.

In or out? Analyzing 11 teams on the bubble

Trae Young

Rooting for a team on the NCAA Tournament bubble is a unique experience. Unlike any other sport, teams on the fringes of success pray for a chance to keep playing, with only so much control over the situation. Sure, they could win their conference tournaments, but many face long roads and brutal opponents between themselves and a conference tourney title.

Unlike the first college football team left out of the playoff, most of these teams are supremely flawed. They didn’t win their conference and weren’t ranked near the top of the polls all year. These are teams that just want a chance to prove they aren’t mediocre and make some noise in March. With conference tournaments very much underway, here’s our look at 11 bubble teams hanging on by a thread. Some have a chance to earn their way, but others are already at home, watching and hoping.

1. Notre Dame

The Irish are one of the most interesting bubble teams in years. Notre Dame is only 20-14 on the season, but lost nine of those games without star forward Bonzie Colson. The Irish were also without the services of point guard Matt Farrell in four of the games they lost without Colson. The selection committee has long claimed to take injuries into consideration. Notre Dame will put that theory to the test. Colson and Farrell are both back in the lineup, leading to a win over Virginia Tech early in the conference tournament. The Irish then lost to Duke Thursday, which would have been the kind of win to earn them a bid. Now, like the other teams listed here, they wait.

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Steve Alford: Defense is keeping UCLA from taking next step

Steve Alford UCLA

Consistent defense continues to be an issue for UCLA, and Bruins head coach Steve Alford knows it.

UCLA lost at Utah 84-78 on Thursday night. The Bruins allowed the Utes to shoot 52.7 percent from the field for the game. There was a period in the final six minutes of the first half where Utah made five straight threes to build a lead (they went into halftime up 47-40).

After the game, Alford pointed to the defensive lapses by the Bruins and said that was preventing the team from taking the next step.

UCLA and Utah both now have 10-6 conference records in what’s been a down season for the Pac-12. Arizona is the only ranked team from the conference. The Bruins visit Colorado on Sunday, while Utah gets USC on Saturday.

UCLA suspends shoplifting basketball players for season

UCLA Bruins logo
The pair of UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China who remain on the team will sit out the remainder of the season.

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.

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.

UCLA offering free tickets to California firefighters

UCLA Bruins logo

UCLA’s athletic department is trying to show some appreciation for the firefighters who have been working so hard to battle all the fires in the state.

The UCLA Athletics Twitter account announced on Wednesday that the school is offering two free tickets to all California firefighters who want to attend one of the Bruins’ last four men’s basketball games in December.

Firefighters who want to take advantage of the offer would have their choice of attending UCLA’s games against Cincinnati, South Dakota, Washington State or Washington. The games against Cincinnati and Washington are probably most appealing of the four.

Going back to last week, fires have broken out throughout Southern California. Many of the ones in the Los Angeles area, including one nearby UCLA, are nearly contained, but one in Ventura County has been spreading up towards Santa Barbara and causing damage. New fires have also broken out in San Diego. On top of the Southern California fires, there were awful fires in Northern California in October that caused 44 deaths and billions of dollars in destruction.

LiAngelo Ball, UCLA players suspended indefinitely for shoplifting incident

LiAngelo Ball

UCLA held a press conference on Wednesday to address the shoplifting incident that resulted in three players being arrested in China last week, and head coach Steve Alford revealed that the freshmen have been suspended indefinitely from the program.

Alford said the amount of games LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill will miss has not been determined.

Alford and UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero noted that the three players seemed genuinely remorseful, and it sounds as though they will be back with the team at some point. All three apologized for their actions and thanked U.S. president Donald Trump for his assistance in resolving the matter.

Guerrero confirmed that the players stole from three stores and said the charges against against them were dropped.

Shoplifting is a serious offense in China and can result in up to 10 years in prison, so the players were fortunate to have gotten off with a slap on the wrist. LaVar Ball may have tried to downplay his son’s arrest initially, but it would appear UCLA is taking it seriously.

Donald Trump says he kept UCLA players out of jail, wants a ‘thank you’

Donald Trump

The Three UCLA basketball players who were arrested for shoplifting in China last week received some assistance from Donald Trump in resolving their case, and the U.S. president would like it if the young men showed their appreciation.

UCLA freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were finally allowed to leave China on Tuesday after they were basically under house arrest for a week at their hotel. Trump spoke directly with Chinese president Xi Jinping to help settle the issue, and all the charges have reportedly been dropped. Trump says the three players were facing as much as 10 years in jail, and he wants some credit for helping out.

You didn’t think Mr. President would pass up an opportunity to toot his own horn, did you?

Shoplifting is a serious offense in China, and surveillance footage reportedly proved that the three UCLA players stole from three high-end stores at a shopping center. Other than being ripped on national television by a UCLA legend, they really haven’t faced any consequences. Like it or not, all indications are that Trump had a lot to do with that.

Report: LiAngelo Ball, UCLA players had all shoplifting charges dropped

LiAngelo Ball

The three UCLA basketball players who were arrested for shoplifting in China last week were finally allowed to return home on Tuesday, and it appears as though they will be coming back to the United States with no blemishes on their official police records.

According to a report from Mark Dreyer of China Sports Insider, all of the charges against UCLA freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill have been dropped. The players were permitted to leave the country on Tuesday after being placed under a version of house arrest at their hotel for a week, and Dreyer reports that they were not officially deported or escorted to the airport.

U.S. president Donald Trump arrived in China for a two-day stay the day after the arrests took place, and he spoke with Chinese president Xi Jinping about resolving the case. Sources told ESPN’s Arash Markazi that Trump’s involvement helped expedite the process, though there was never any real chance of the players serving jail time.

The three players are fortunate to have avoided legal trouble after surveillance footage reportedly showed them shoplifting from three high-end stores, but they could still face disciplinary action from UCLA. The school has scheduled a press conference for Wednesday, during which Ball, Riley and Hill are expected to give statements. The three were already ripped on national television by one UCLA legend and are sure to face much more criticism.

Pac-12 commissioner releases statement on UCLA players who were arrested

LiAngelo Ball

The three UCLA basketball players who were arrested for shoplifting in China last week were on a plane home to Los Angeles Tuesday morning, and it sounds as though the case has reached a resolution.

In a statement, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott confirmed that UCLA freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were flying home from China and thanked the Chinese authorities for the way they handled the incident.

The three freshmen were arrested last Tuesday after surveillance footage reportedly proved that they had stolen items from three high-end stores at a shopping center in Hangzhou. Shoplifting is a serious offense in China and can result in up to 10 years in prison. The players had been on a version of house arrest for the past week at the hotel where the team stayed.

As Scott mentioned in his statement, U.S. president Donald Trump spoke with Xi Jinping, his Chinese counterpart, during a two-day stay in China last week. All indications are that the players are going to get a slap on the wrist, though they have already been ripped on national television by one UCLA legend and are likely to face disciplinary action from the university.