Steve Alford Says He Was 'Surprised' LiAngelo Ball Left UCLA Basketball Team

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistDecember 6, 2017

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
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

One day after LiAngelo Ball left UCLA, Bruins head coach Steve Alford addressed the media to discuss the freshman's departure from the program.

Alford said his reaction to Ball leaving was surprised above all else.

"I don't think it's angry," he said (via ESPN's Kyle Bonagura). "I think it was more, maybe, surprised. If you're looking for one word, maybe it's surprised because it's nothing that we saw coming."

TMZ Sports reported on Monday that LaVar Ball was pulling his son out of school because he felt UCLA's punishment for a shoplifting incident in China wasn't fair.

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 Nov. 10 game against Georgia Tech.

Alford noted since returning to the United States, Ball has been a model citizen at school.

"LiAngelo has been, since coming back [from China], he's been tremendous," Alford said. "He's been to all of his classes, he's been to all the tutors, all the mentors. He's done exactly what's been asked of him."

Alford also said he has no plans to reach out to LaVar or LiAngelo about their decision to leave UCLA.

This was Ball's first year with the Bruins. He was following in the footsteps of his brother, Lonzo Ball, who led the program to a 31-5 record and an appearance in the Sweet 16 last season.