BUFFALO, N.Y.-Howard Washington didn't want to leave the Canisius High School basketball team.
He just realized he had to.
The junior point guard from Canada has announced he is leaving Canisius and transferring to Montverde Academy Prep School in Florida.
Montverde is the top-ranked team in the country, according to MaxPreps, and went 28-0 overall and won the Dick's High School National tournament last season.
"I'm going there for the players and the coaching," Washington said. "They have the number one player in the country for the class ahead of me. They have seven-foot big men. Playing there will help me get better every day in practice."
And Washington will be coached by Kevin Boyle, a coaching legend from his time at St. Patrick's High School in New Jersey. Among his most successful players: Kyrie Irving.
Kyle Husband, Washington's former coach at Canisius, was informed of the decision on Saturday after speaking with the player's family.
"Howard made a decision to better himself," Husband said. "He had a good opportunity, and I wish him nothing but the best."
"He's a great player, and anytime you lose a great player it will hurt. But we have a group of players that will step up and do a great job."
Husband says Washington choosing to leave does not worry him at all.
"I think we do a great job preparing kids both academically and athletically," he said, "I think the dozen or so players from our program that are playing in college right now will attest to that."
(Howard's decision) doesn't say anything (about Western New York basketball in general). I think it shows the landscape of college athletics."
But he was in a great position at Canisius, the coach added.
Washington disagreed. While he thoroughly enjoyed his time at the school, he knew he and his family had a tough choice to make.
"It is the best place for me to reach my dreams," Washington said of Montverde. "It is a better place. I love Canisius High School and the staff there and everything. Don't get me wrong. But it's tough to make it big in a small city."
Washington has 17 offers as of Tuesday night including: Syracuse, Memphis, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Harvard, Stanford and Wake Forest. Area schools such as St. Bonaventure, the University at Buffalo and Canisius also offered him.
Washington, who was 2nd team All-WNY as a sophomore, chose Montverde over La Miuere and Brewster prep schools. All three had been in frequent contact since the high school season ended in March.
Scouting websites have Washington as the highest-rated point guard in the 2016 Canadian high school class. He is also considered a top-50 recruit overall, and some high school scouting sites have gone so far as to declare Washington as the next Tyler Ennis.
Washington takes the comparison in stride.
"I'm really close to guys like Tyler Ennis and Jeremy Lamb," he said. "I try to model my game after those guys."
Washington leaving Canisius doesn't say anything bad about the program, however.
"There's absolutely no reason anyone shouldn't go to (Canisius)," he said. "Just for me and my family, this was a better decision. Coach understood. I have nothing against the school or anything."