By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
Will Wade will spend the next few weeks building a roster for his first season as LSU’s basketball coach.
He won’t have to worry about his inherited signing class.
Four-star duo Brandon Rachal and Galen Alexander both told Tiger Rag on Wednesday they were excited about Wade’s hiring and remained 100 percent committed to LSU.
Wade actually recruited Rachal, a 6-foot-4 wing from Natchitoches Central, for VCU. Rachal strongly considered signing with the Rams because of Wade’s system, including VCU in his list of finalists before picking LSU.
“A big reason he was in my final list was his style of play fits the type of player I am,” Rachal said. “He likes tough players, players who can get after it on both end of the floor. I feel that fits me well.
“I feel like it’s the perfect match. He wants to get up and down, press, get into people, make offensive players uncomfortable and go and kill them on the other end. Play with high energy, play hard, play smart. That type of play fits me perfect. I’m a high IQ player who can put pressure on the ball, get up and down, play help on defense, be a high energy, tough player.”
Wade actually texted Rachal the night he accepted the LSU job. They spoke briefly just before Wade’s flight to Baton Rouge, and Rachal said Wade told him he plans to visit him in Natchitoches this week.
Wade didn’t recruit fellow LSU signee Galen Alexander at VCU, but the four-star forward from Lafayette Christian was no less excited about the hiring. In particular, he’s pumped about Wade’s defensive emphasis – the two VCU teams he coached both ranked among the nation’s most efficient defensive units, and the 6-foot-7 Alexander is a versatile defender who can guard multiple spots.
“I know for sure he takes a lot of pride defensively,” Alexander said. “That’s a big plus, especially how my game is.
“I’ll fit in good for sure, just being the player I am. I play well in transition, I play well on the go, and I’m good defensively. Uptempo basketball, that’s really my game. It’s really a blessing he got the job.”
Alexander injured his knee midway through LCA’s state championship season but averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds per game as a junior. He said his rehab is going well – he was actually leaving as he spoke on the phone – and he hopes to be at or near full speed when he arrives on campus in June.
“It’s been good,” he said. “Right now, I’m a month ahead of schedule. It’s been smooth, so that’s a blessing. I’m staying strong. I’m almost back running and jumping. They’re going to let me back on the court next week, shooting around and ball handling. No serious cutting yet. But it’s been real smooth.”
Both players expressed remorse over Johnny Jones’ firing, but both understood it’s part of college basketball. The two talk daily and plan to arrive together this summer. Associate athletic director Eddie Nunez maintained contact with both throughout the transition, and the hiring of Wade solidified their futures in purple and gold.
“I love Coach Jones and his staff to death, had a very good relationship with them,” Rachal said. “I thought we’d work well together. At the same time it’s a business. I understood it was a business. After it happened Ibremained committed to LSU. It was wait and see mode, but I’m solid. I feel like besides Coach Jones not getting fired, this is the best situation for me.”