UCLA coach Alford surprised by LiAngelo Ball leaving school

FILe -In this Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, file photo, UCLA NCAA college basketball player LiAngelo Ball attends a news conference at UCLA in Los Angeles. The father of UCLA guard LiAngelo Ball says he's withdrawing his son from school so he can prepare to play in the NBA. LaVar Ball says his "grand plan" is for all three sons to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. LiAngelo told "Access Hollywood" in an interview aired Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, on the "Today" show that his UCLA suspension is "just a long time of doing nothing. I'd rather be playing."(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Jae C. Hong

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The father of UCLA guard LiAngelo Ball says he plans to withdraw his son from school because of concerns related to the freshman's indefinite suspension for his participation in a shoplifting incident during the Bruins' trip to China.

The younger Ball, along with freshmen Jalen Hill and Cody Riley, have been barred from all team activities as part of their suspension for shoplifting from three high-end stores last month when UCLA opened its season overseas.

LaVar Ball told the Los Angeles Times and ESPN on Monday that he's going to explore other options for LiAngelo because "I'm not going to let him sit back and not practice."

The elder Ball says he hasn't spoken to the school about withdrawing his son. "I'm taking him and I'm gone," he told the Times.

"We learned today of LiAngelo Ball's intention to withdraw from UCLA," coach Steve Alford said in a statement. "We respect the decision he and his family have made, and we wish him all the best in the future."

LiAngelo is the middle child of Ball's three sons. Oldest son Lonzo is a rookie with the Lakers after playing one successful season at UCLA.

The elder Ball pulled his youngest son, LaMelo, out of Chino Hills High recently in favor of home schooling him.

LiAngelo Ball never played a regular-season game for the Bruins (7-1), who fell out of the Top 25 last week.

Asked if LiAngelo agreed with the decision, the elder Ball told the Times, "My boy is loyal to me. I tried to let UCLA deal with the process and he should have been playing the next week."

Alford indicated last week that he expected the fate of the three suspended players to be resolved in the near term.

Ball, Hill and Riley publicly apologized for their transgression while reading prepared statements at a campus news conference on Nov. 15.

Alford said last week that he and his staff were communicating with the players via text messages and calls, mostly to see if they are attending classes. The players are allowed to use athletic facilities, including the weight room, but aren't working directly with the coaching staff, he said.

Video posted online recently showed Ball playing a pickup game against LaMelo. LaMelo and his father sat courtside last week to watch Lonzo play for the Lakers.

LaVar Ball and President Donald Trump have engaged in a public war of words since the three players returned from China. Ball minimized Trump's involvement in winning the players' release and Trump tweeted in response that he should have left the players in China in jail. The men's exchanges escalated from there.

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