news 3 days ago

Santa Fe High star, Lobo basketball commit JB White shot, killed

Albuquerque Journal, N.M. — Geoff Grammer and Kyle Land Albuquerque Journal, N.M.

Aug. 01-- Aug. 1--"June Bug" was a week away.

Fedonta "J.B." White, the star Santa Fe High Demons basketball player who was set join the UNM Lobo basketball team next week in Albuquerque -- the next step in his dream to play professional basketball -- was shot and killed early Saturday morning near Santa Fe.

Around 3:30 a.m., deputies from the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office responded to calls of a shooting in the Chupadero area, just north of the city of Santa Fe, where officers determined White had died of a gunshot wound.

He was 18.

SFSO Juan Rios told the Journal the case is "still very active" and that no arrests have been made in regards to the shooting. He said the department would not be issuing anymore information about the homicide, such as why White was in the area or if there were any suspects.

Rios said more details may be provided at a later time as the case develops. Those with information about the shooting are encouraged to call SFSO investigators.

White, a 6-foot-8 forward who was expected to play on the wing in college, was so eager to get a jump start on his college career with the Lobos that he wrapped up his coursework this summer with Santa Fe High was set to accept the final open scholarship for the Lobo basketball team for this fall semester.

He was first offered a scholarship by UNM head coach Paul Weir in June 2018 after White's freshman season. He entertained offers from colleges across the country as his recruiting stock jumped after being seen by coaches in the summer basketball circuit playing for the Utah-based Exum Elite team and as of Saturday, he was ranked a top 100 recruit for the Class of 2021 (they had not yet reclassified him into their 2020 rankings) by all three major recruiting services (ESPN No. 100, rivals.com No. 92 and 247Sports.com No. 59).

But his heart, various reasons, was set on being a Lobo.

First, White told the Journal in October 2019 when he made his verbal commitment to the Lobos, the bond with Lobo basketball coaches felt like family and he also had a desire to represent his home state.

"I feel sometimes people look down on our state and people in it," White told the Journal in October 2019. "I want to be a part of proving everyone wrong."

But there was more.

White often talked about his love of his grandmother, Jude Voss, and commitment to making her proud -- using basketball both as a means to one day take care of her but also to escape the heartache of a troubled childhood. His mother battled substance abuse and eventually suffering an overdose as he was about to begin the sixth grade, leading him to move in with his grandmother

"I just needed basketball in my life -- something just to make me happy," White told Sebastian Noel during a 2018 interview that aired on Proview Networks.

"... My grandma, I feel, she does a lot for me. She pays for a lot of stuff for me. I don't know. I just want to see her happy. I just want to make it so I don't ever have to see her work again."

White, who played high school basketball in the gymnasium named for the only Lobo basketball player ever to have his jersey retired by the program, Toby Roybal, would have been the first Lobo player from New Mexico given a scholarship directly out of high school since Cullen Neal ahead of the 2013-14 season and one of only two northern New Mexico players (Alex Kirk, Los Alamos, 2010-2014) to play on scholarship for the program in decades.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic news of the passing of JB White," UNM basketball released in a statement Saturday afternoon. "He was an extremely talented student-athlete and we were looking forward to him joining the Lobo Family. He was an amazing young man with a bright future, our thoughts and hearts go out to his family & friends."

Last fall, his high school coach, Zack Cole, said White had been a huge part of setting a strong foundation for Demons basketball.

"He's a gym rat who has helped create a gym-rat culture within our program," Cole said in October. "His freshman season, he used to come in the gym alone at lunch to put up shots and work. Last year, there were a few others who came with him. This year, there are 25 guys coming in. He started that."

Santa Fe Schools Superintendent Veronica Garcia said in a phone interview that counselors and behavioral health specialists will be made available to any student, teacher or staff member in need of those services.

"It's a tragic loss," Garcia said of White's death. "I'm always concerned, regardless of the cause, when there's loss of young life like this."

Santa Fe High principal Carl Marano added: "He was a talented young man who touched so many people in such a positive manner and he will be greatly missed. I will always remember his infectious smile and the love he had for the Santa Fe High family. Now, more than ever, I hope that our community can come together and support not only JB but all of our students and families during this difficult time."

White is the third teenage homicide victim in the Santa Fe area in almost two months. Matthias Hutt has been charged with first degree murder for stabbing his friend Aiko Perez, 17, on June 6, after what police state was a violent episode caused by LSD.

On July 15, Santa Fe police also found Ivan Perez, no relation, dead of gunshot wounds in the Tierra Contenta area. Police arrested Mario Guizar-Anchondo as a suspect in the crime later the next day.

A GoFundMe account to help his family has been established and can be found on GoFundMe.com by searching "JB White."

___

(c)2020 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)

Visit the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.) at www.abqjournal.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.