But in a shocking and heartbreaking moment, White’s promise was extinguished.
White, an outstanding Santa Fe High School basketball player on his way to the University of New Mexico, was gunned down early Saturday morning, a spokesperson for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office said.
White, 18, was due to graduate in 2021 but reclassified in the spring so he could play for the Lobos this year. The most recruited male basketball player in Santa Fe since St. Michael’s Nick Pino in the early 1960s, White recently completed classes to graduate early, Santa Fe principal Carl Marano said.
Authorities arrested 16-year-old Estevan Montoya and charged him with first degree murder in connection with White’s death.
The sheriff’s office said Montoya shot White around 3:30 a.m. during a brawl at a party in Chupadero.
White was rushed to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
In addition to the murder, Montoya faces charges of aggravated assault, illegal possession of a handgun and negligent use of a deadly weapon, according to the sheriff’s office.
The Chupadero house where White was shot is at the end of a long driveway blocked by police on Saturday. County assessor records show it is owned by Juventino and Sandra Alva. When contacted by phone, Juventino Alva declined to comment.
White’s shocking death left those who knew him and rooted for him in grief – unable to believe that the sensitive child whose mere presence at an elementary school would attract dozens of adoring admirers was gone.
“The whole thing is just surreal,” said Marano. “He was an incredible young man who was about to fulfill his dream and become a Lobo.”
Adrienne Cole, the wife of Santa Fe High head basketball coach Zack Cole and a cousin of White, said the family did not want to comment on White’s death.
“Our whole family is devastated,” said Adrienne Cole. “We all need a lot of prayer. “
A lot was expected of White on the basketball court, almost from the moment he entered the Santa Fe High campus at Siringo Road and Yucca Street. And often he had given birth.
He was named to the Class 5A All-State Second Team after averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds in 2019-20 as the Demons reached the state quarter-finals. He played half of the 2018-19 season before dislocating his kneecap in a game that ended his second season – one year Santa Fe High reached the big school final for the first time in 41 years.
As the Demons started last season, White verbally pledged to sign a scholarship to play at UNM, ending a growing recruitment process. A variety of Power Five programs, including the state of Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Minnesota, Texas Tech, and Texas Christian, visited Santa Fe to meet White last year.
White’s decision to sign at UNM was seen as a big boost for the Lobos, who rarely find 6-8 players with room to develop so close to home. Many in Santa Fe believed he could be the best player in the area in a UNM uniform since the late Toby Roybal played for New Mexico in the 1950s.
But White, who said at the time that the Lobos were the first to offer him a scholarship before other schools began to notice him, also seemed to think UNM would be the right fit – it was close to at home, where he lived with his grandmother and mother.
Christian Kavanaugh, a 2019 Santa Fe High graduate who played with White on the state finalist squad, said White’s death was an incredible ending to a story that could have been so good.
“I was thinking this is crazy,” Kavanaugh said. “This guy has the best future and nothing can get in his way. It was horrible because he had so much potential and the greatest future ahead of him. He was so young and he was going to get out of here. He was gonna do great things. ”
White was ranked among the nation’s top 100 players by the Rivals.com website earlier this year, albeit for the 2021 promotion at the time.
“Our entire community is shocked and saddened by the loss of someone we celebrated during their memorable time on the field and whose talent was a joy to sports fans in New Mexico. We are deeply shaken, ”said Veronica García, director of public schools in Santa Fe, in a statement. “We send our deepest condolences to his family and to all who loved him. It is indescribable to lose someone so young and with such a promise for the future.
White is the fourth high school student or recent graduate in the area to be killed in recent months.
On July 15, Ivan Armando Perez Chumacero, 17, a rising senior from Capital High School, was shot and killed in a scuffle outside an apartment complex on the south side, witnesses said. The New Mexican.
On July 6, in San Miguel County, Adelina Tafoya, 16, a student at Robertson High School in Las Vegas, was shot and killed when two men mistook her car for that of someone who had stolen a friend, according to court records.
On June 5, Aiko Perez, a recent graduate from Larragoite Academy in Santa Fe, was fatally stabbed by a friend who told police he was under the influence of LSD, court records show.
It seemed almost unthinkable that White could be on a list of tragedies. Born in Dallas in 2002, he lived in Texas for a few years and said in an interview last fall that he was as intrigued by football as he was by basketball.
“I was definitely going to get to the NFL,” White said. “I wanted to play football and I love to play football. In Texas, it was everyone’s main sport. You were going out, and everyone was fighting in the street. “
But as he grew older and his nimble figure found a home on the court, it became clear that basketball was his game. It is through the sport that he emerges, and his loved ones can. see it happen.
“JB just wants you to care about him,” Demons coach Cole said in an interview last fall. “He wants to be loved. He’s pretty much for himself, so he won’t do anything to get you to notice him. But if you show him that you care, he opens up to you. “