Things are getting even more insane after three UCLA players were arrested Tuesday under suspicion of shoplifting during the team’s trip to China. Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill reportedly stole items from a Louis Vuitton store near the team hotel in Shanghai.

This isn’t the American legal system. (Duh.) In China, where they don’t care much for high-profile American college athletes, Ball, Riley and Hill could face very serious punishment. According to a lawyer who spoke anonymously with Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel, the trio could be detained for weeks while the local prosecution decide whether to press charges. And if charges are brought, they would face 3-10 years of jail time with a conviction.

And Chinese prosecutors have an estimated 99.2 percent conviction rate, according to Chinese court researcher William Nee:

The three men could be detained for more than a month without American-style bail before local prosecutors even decide whether to press charges, according to William Nee, a Hong Kong-based researcher of the Chinese court system for Amnesty International.

Nee said it is not uncommon for a defendant to wait 30-37 days before being officially indicted. Among those indicted, Chinese prosecutors enjoy a 99.2 percent conviction rate, according to Nee’s research.

LiAngelo has been shrouded in the shadow of his brothers, Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball and 2019 five-star recruit LaMelo — and of course his father, LaVar. This is not how he wanted to make headlines. Meanwhile LaVar, who has a knack for creating and aggravating tense situations, has arranged for a press conference in his hotel suite to address Shanghai media.

What could go wrong?

I hope he knows the Chinese government couldn’t care less about the Big Baller Brand. One of Wetzel’s UCLA sources in the Yahoo report expressed concern about how LaVar will handle the situation:

“LaVar is going to be a wild card, no one knows what he is going to do,” the source said. “Will he rail at the Chinese government? Will he rail on UCLA? Or just say, ‘My kid is an idiot’?”

If LaVar can put ego and marketing ploys aside, he’ll choose the latter option and call his son an idiot while begging the government for mercy. According to Nee, the Chinese court system expert who spoke to Yahoo, effective negotiations and advocacy could go a long way to getting the three players out of detainment:

“I would say they could be in quite a bit of trouble if they have solid proof that they shoplifted,” Nee told Yahoo Sports. “However, part of it will depend on whether their lawyers, the university, or the U.S. consulate can advocate and negotiate on their behalf.”

Overall, this has been a nightmare week in China for UCLA and Georgia Tech, who made the overseas trip to play each other in Friday’s season opener. The Yellow Jackets suspended starting guards Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson after self-reporting impermissible benefits to the NCAA, hoping to avoid serious penalties by claiming the coaching staff had no prior knowledge of said benefits. Then the poo hit the fan when Ron Bell, a friend of Josh Pastner’s, claimed Pastner knew about everything all along.

Between these incidents and the continuing FBI investigation, this college basketball offseason has been as ugly as they come.

[Yahoo Sports]

About Jesse Kramer

Jesse is a writer and editor for The Comeback. He has also worked for SI.com and runs The Catch and Shoot, a college basketball website based in Chicago. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Follow Jesse on Twitter @Jesse_Kramer.

  • Chris

    As Phil Mushnick would say, these are college men!

  • Parts

    I do hope you’ll pardon my lack of sympathy for these fools plight.