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What is the proper punishment for UCLA’s freshman trio?

Its been almost a week since UCLA players LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley have returned home after being detained in China for shoplifting. Now the big question begins.. What will be the punishment be for their actions?

It was a given for UCLA to suspend the three players indefinitely, yet the term “indefinitely” has been loosely used in the past. Lets remember that Rick Pitino was “indefinitely” suspended when it became clear the Louisville program engaged in criminal activity. This ultimately led to the firing of Pitino the next week. Duke guard Grayson Allen was also “indefinitely” suspended by Coach K for a tripping incident that ended with a one game slap on the wrist.

The point here is the term “indefinite” could mean everything, but also means nothing. The suspension could either end with the players kicked out of school, losing a year on the court, or simply just a few weeks sitting out of practice.

There has been a wide range of opinions on the matter. Some call into play the amateurism side of things, claiming these are just kids who made a simple mistake. Others believe no mistake is so simple when it involves committing a legitimate crime in a foreign country.

I tend to believe there’s something to be said about making such an ignorant decision. The incident has not only created worldwide embarrassing news for the Bruins, but it required U.S. President Donald Trump to get involved in order for the student athletes to touch American soil once again.

I especially think this is a statement that reflects the Ball family in particular. I have always been one to support what Lavar Ball has done as a father for his kids. Yet, when I see the lack of good judgement being made by a person who already has the spotlight on him, it boggles my mind to contemplate the values instilled during all those shooting drills.

The Ball family is certainly heading towards being well off. This is also in credit to the hard work and smart business decisions made by Lavar. On top of giving his boys a financial stability, it has seemed to the naked eye, he is a father who is actively involved in the physical and mental maturity of his kids. Yet, how does something like this happen? How was it not told by either a loved one or university mentor, the potential ramifications of ones actions in China compared to the United States.

Regardless of what was told or not told to the players, we need to take into consideration where the crime was committed more so than the crime itself. Shoplifting in a strip mall outside of LA is a completely different ballgame then stealing from a designer store in a foreign country, and for that the punishment should be handled accordingly.

In my opinion, the only chance for a lesson to be learned, is a full year suspension. I say this for a couple reasons. First, this is still just a “suspension” and does not involve being expelled from a University you embarrassed on a worldwide stage. But more importantly and no matter what it otherwise argued, an extra few weeks detained in a five star Chinese hotel is not a legitimate punishment.

At the end of the day, these players are either sorry they got caught or legitimately sorry for the stress and embarrassment they put unto their team, school and family alike. The only way to know for sure that the latter is accurate, is to take away a full year to think about it.

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Sam is a College Basketball Analyst here at A former Division II collegiate basketball player himself, Sam is the broadcast personality of Queens College Sports Network "QCSN"
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