Steve Alford 'surprised' LiAngelo Ball leaving, defends himself, UCLA


He too could take an unconventional path.

LaVar Ball told ESPN before the season that LiAngelo would stay at UCLA for only one season, even if he wasn't projected as a draft pick.

"I've been doing this (coaching) for 27 years, and playing before that, " Alford said (via USA Today). "I think it's more surprised if you're looking for one word, it's surprised because it's nothing we saw coming". "He doesn't get to be part of what I think is an incredible basketball program with great teammates and coaches that care about him", Alford said.

Wednesday, Nov. 15's news conference at UCLA was held less that 20 hours after Cody Riley, from left, LiAngelo Ball and Jalen Hill arrived at LAX after a flight from China. They were going to keep the best shooter on the team coming off the bench?

The Bruins announced Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were indefinitely suspended after stealing from multiple stores when the team was in Hangzhou preparing for a November 10 game against Georgia Tech.

However, Alford said he hasn't talked with LiAngelo or LaVar Ball since news broke that LaVar had withdrawn the freshman from school, purportedly to prepare for the 2018 NBA Draft, though many consider him a long shot to follow his older brother, Lonzo, to the NBA.

LaVar Ball likely won't find Stalbergs' comments very amusing if he comes across them.

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Alford said neither LaVar nor LiAngelo spoke to him about the decision to quit the team and leave school.

LiAngelo is the middle child of Ball's three sons.

Lithuanian team Lietkabelis Panevezys has said no in such a fantastic and petty way: their coach, Arturs Stalberg said in essence that he'd love to sign the Balls, but just not to play basketball. LaVar Ball says his "grand plan" is for all three sons to play for the Los Angeles Lakers.

And after LaMelo was pulled out of Chino Hills High earlier this year by LaVar, it seems that the next step for the younger Ball brothers is to play in Europe to get them ready for the National Basketball Association. Three UCLA basketball players - Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley - detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting returned home, where they might be disciplined by the school as a result of the global scandal.

Asked if he would reach out to the Ball family, Alford said, no. "I'm here at Pauley Pavilion every day".

The university disciplinary process via the office of student conduct is ongoing, Alford said Tuesday, adding that he didn't have a timeline for when it would be finished.