UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford has finally publicly commented on LaVar Ball’s decision to pull his middle child, LiAngelo Ball, from school.
It was announced this week that Ball has withdrawn from UCLA in part because of a perceived unfair treatment from the university in the wake of his overseas arrest for shoplifting.
While Alford could understandably be upset over the distraction the entire situation has caused, he had nothing but good things to say about ‘Gelo.
Instead, he praised Ball’s work ethic in the classroom and simply said he was “surprised” by the news.
“LiAngelo has been, since coming back (from China), he’s been tremendous,” Alford said during media availability on Tuesday. “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. I don’t think (I’m) angry. 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.
“I’m not for sure on (what adjustments need to be made) because we’ve played eight games to date without ‘Gelo. We’re getting better. That’s what I’m most proud of with that group of young men; we’ve traveled a lot and had our share of distractions over the past five weeks.”
Since withdrawing his son from UCLA, Big Baller Brand patriarch LaVar Ball has been lobbing shots at the UCLA program and coaching staff for their handling of the situation.
So far, Alford says he has not had any conversations with LaVar.
UCLA returns to the court Wednesday night against the Montana Grizzlies. Tip-off is set for 11:00 p.m. ET on the Pac-12 Network.