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Lobo hoops notes: Commit White cracks ESPN’s Top 100

Santa Fe’s J.B. White goes up for a shot against Highland’s Jose Murillo, left, and Josh Barraza during boys prep basketball action last December. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

J.B. White has made it clear.

He plans to finish his coursework at Santa Fe High School this summer in time to enroll at New Mexico by August and be a part of the 2020 recruiting class.

And, while it would be a year earlier than originally planned when he committed two years ago to play for Paul Weir, there is no denying that on paper, the 6-foot-8 White would be one of the highest-rated players to play for the Lobos right out of high school. He also is one of the highest-rated New Mexico high school players recruited in many years and now a top 100 recruit according to three major national recruiting services.

While White already sees his national ranking sitting at No. 33 on 247Sports.com and 96 by rivals.com, this week ESPN dropped its first ESPN 100 rankings for the Class of 2021. It included White among the top 100 recruits nationally, checking in at No. 100.

It is unclear where he would be ranked as part of the Class of 2020, which he is attempting to join.

For comparison’s sake, since 2007, the furthest back ESPN archives online its high school basketball recruiting rankings, there have been three New Mexico high school graduates finish in the Top 100 on ESPN: Hobbs High’s Jeff Taylor at No. 69 in 2008 before going to Vanderbilt, Los Alamos graduate Alex Kirk at No. 99 in 2010 before going to UNM, and Eldorado High graduate Cullen Neal at 87 in 2013 before starting at UNM.

Taylor was also rated No. 52 by Rivals and 247Sports didn’t have a list that far back. Kirk was No. 90 by 247 sports, but outside the Top 100 for Rivals. Neal was outside the top 100 of both Rivals and 247Sports.

So, what does Weir think about this week’s ranking for his prized recruit?

“Unfortunately, JB is not someone I can comment on other than to confirm we are recruiting him,” Weir said in a teleconference with area reporters on Tuesday. “He has not signed anything. And unfortunately, there’s not anything I can comment on.”

The NCAA prohibits coaches from talking about specific players until they sign a National Letter of Intent, which normally they can’t do until November of their senior year of high school, unless they are allowed to reclassify, as White is attempting to do.

But, until he does, Weir can’t publicly talk about him.

As for that one open scholarship on the Lobos roster right now?

“We have one scholarship remaining, a lot of different things could happen with that,” Weir said. “I don’t really have a definite answer for you as far as this is exactly what’s going to happen with it. There’s some different variables in play there.”

FRANCIS WAIVER: There is no ruling on whether Jeremiah Francis, the North Carolina transfer point guard, will have to sit out this coming season per NCAA transfer rules or will be immediately eligible, though he and UNM are filing a waiver hoping that happens.

“I’m gonna do everything I can, and obviously with Jeremiah and his family and other people’s help as well, to do everything we can to put our best foot forward with the NCAA in their eyes to allow him to play in the fall,” Weir said.

What grounds are Francis and UNM using as a basis for their waiver appeal?

Weir said FERPA prohibits him from disclosing that information.

ROSTER: Weir on his roster: “I feel really, really good about the recruiting class we have coming in – the high school kids we signed in the fall had terrific seasons, and I feel really good about them. I think we have some returners that are very undervalued. Keith McGee, Makuach Maluach and Zane Martin, I think, are three seniors that are undervalued because of either the guys they played with or played behind this past season. But I think going into their senior years, they are guys that I really consider to be among the top of our conference at their respective positions.”

WHY NOW? In case you’re wondering why Weir and UNM called Tuesday’s Zoom conference – a 33-minute Q&A with local media – you might not be alone.

“I didn’t know when to do this personally,” Weir said. “Obviously, we never had an opportunity to kind of have an end-of-season presser. … I was a little sensitive to when’s the right time. Our season ended and then obviously coronavirus came along and turned everyone’s life upside down. I didn’t really know when the appropriate time was to start talking about a basketball team again given the seriousness of what we’ve all been through and what we’re still going through.”

Top 100s

ESPN’s college basketball recruiting rankings have been archived since 2007. From that year through the Class of 2023 (the classes of 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 of course are not yet final lists), there have been four New Mexico high school players ranked in the ESPN 100 with the addition of Santa Fe High’s J.B. White this week to the class of 2021.

Here is the list (rankings in parentheses, college chosen):

• 2008 (69) Jeff Taylor, Hobbs HS — Vanderbilt
• 2010 (99) Alex Kirk, Los Alamos HS — UNM
• 2013 (87) Cullen Neal, Eldorado HS — UNM
• 2021* (100) JB White, Santa Fe High — UNM **
*Not final ranking.
** A commitment. The soonest White can sign is November, though he can enroll at UNM earlier.

• • •

Other top-100 players who played collegiately in this state:
• 2007 (32) Herb Pope, Aliquippa (Pa.) High School — NMSU
• 2008 (42) Phillip McDonald, Cypress Springs (Texas) High — UNM
• 2011 (82) Sim Bhullar, Toronto/Huntington Prep — NMSU

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