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Pathway's Washington has tough choice

3/30/2012

Jordan Washington doesn’t know where he'll be in the fall.

The top-rated junior recruit in New York City could be back at Pathways Prep, looking for a third straight Public Schools Athletic League Class B boys basketball title. He could also be at a prep school, looking to better himself academically for his future Division I team.

It's a difficult decision the junior is not looking forward to.

"It's a tough situation," Washington said.

While the 6-7, 261-pound center is leaning toward staying at Pathways Prep for his senior year, the need to improve his grades to remain eligible for college basketball might take him away from his Queens school that has been home to him since sixth grade. Washington has offers from Pittsburgh, Louisville, Villanova, St. John's and others.

"I don't want to leave," Washington said. "I've established a home there."

Washington, who averaged 21.7 points and 14 rebounds in league games this season according to the PSAL, admits his eligibility for college is a concern. This past season, the center flunked off the team and missed 10 of the team's 16 league games, although he did return later in the year. He's not sure if he would meet the NCAA Clearinghouse standards right now.

The junior stressed that this decision has nothing to do with trying to play for a bigger program. Pathways plays in the lowest level of basketball in New York City but Washington said he already has received plenty of looks and will continue to do so as he plays with his AAU team, New Heights.

The center mentioned New Heights as a possibility to help him academically. The program offers tutoring and SAT prep, as well as other academic supports for its athletes, according to athletic director Kimani Young. Young said they are working closely with Washington and Pathways Prep to help the junior.

Young believes it would be in Washington's best interest to stay at Pathways Prep, instead of heading to a prep school for one season, as it's more beneficial to transfer to a school as a younger student than as a senior.

"He's kind of missed the boat. If you were asking two years ago, that would have made sense," Young said. "He's so far down the line that he needs to just finish out there and graduate and then move on from that point."

Pathways Prep coach Harold Peaks, who said after the Class B title game that there is an "80-20" chance that Washington played his final game with the school, told his star player to make a pros and cons list to help with the decision and then gather input from a wide array of people to make an educated decision.

Peaks believes there are positives to both staying and leaving Pathways, saying that leaving could help Washington get prepared for the college life by assimilating into it earlier.

"I just think the decision is so difficult," Peaks said. "I wouldn't want to be in his shoes. It's a very difficult situation. I think that he's thinking about the familiarity of the school and it's hard to leave something you're so accustomed to, compared to what are going to be the different structures and routines. It's a huge decision."

Washington's future might still be a few months away from being decided, but one thing is for certain. If he finds himself back in Queens in the fall, he'll be ready to to defend the title.

"We're trying to go for a three-peat if I come back," Washington said.