Trump asks whether UCLA players will thank him for release

UCLA basketball players Cody Riley, left, LiAngelo Ball, right, and Jalen Hill, background center, are surrounded by the media as they leave the Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, in Los Angeles. The three UCLA basketball players detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting returned home, where they may be disciplined by the school as a result of the international scandal. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump is asking whether three UCLA basketball players released from detention in China will thank him.

Trump said he raised their case with China’s president when he visited Xi Jinping in Beijing last week.

Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley returned to Los Angeles on Tuesday and ignored questions from reporters. Trump returned late Tuesday from a trip through Asia and tweeted Wednesday: “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!”

The players were detained in Hangzhou following allegations of shoplifting last week before a game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai.

Basketball league commissioner Larry Scott has thanked Trump, the White House and the State Department for their efforts.

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