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LSU guard Tremont Waters, right, defends against teammate Daryl Edwards in a drill during the first day of preseason practice Friday. Waters is one of three freshmen who drew praise from coach Will Wade through the first few days of practice.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK

It’s still early, but through the first four sessions of preseason practice, LSU’s freshman class has been a pleasant surprise to first-year coach Will Wade.

Wade said Tuesday he believes guards Tremont Waters and Brandon Rachal and forward Mayan Kiir will step in and help right away, citing the three youngsters for their work in the early stages of full-scale practice.

Waters and Kiir were signed by Wade after he took the job in March, while Rachal and injured forward Galen Alexander were signed by former Tigers coach Johnny Jones.

Alexander has not been able to go full speed in practice because he’s still rehabbing from knee surgery last December.

“I guess the one thing that stands out to me after the first three or four practices is we’ve got three freshmen who are going to be able to help us,” Wade said. “You never know how the freshmen are going to be when they start facing live (action) and start going up and down the floor.

“But all three will be able to contribute and help us this year. They bring different things to the table and will be able to contribute to our team this year at some level, which would be a positive for us.”

Combs, Alexander improving

Wade said Alexander and forward Jeremy Combs, who also has been held out of practice, are making progress with their injuries.

Combs has run on a treadmill the past couple of days, just two weeks after having surgery to stabilize an ankle he injured last season while playing for North Texas. Wade said last week Combs would likely be sidelined 6 to 8 weeks.

“He’s progressing just as he needs to,” Wade said. “He’s probably right on schedule.”

Alexander is going through “boot camp,” a three-part, six-hour conditioning test players must pass to practice. Wade said Alexander completed the first session Monday, and, if all goes well, be cleared by doctors and ready for practice by Sunday.

Onwuasor returns

Guard Randy Onwuasor, a graduate transfer from Southern Utah, was back on the court over the weekend after missing Friday’s opening practice because of a family emergency.

Wade said Onwuasor, who is from Inglewood, California, went home and couldn’t get back in time for Friday’s workout. He practiced twice Sunday and in single workouts Monday and Tuesday.

“He’s a big strong, physical player,” Wade said. “He’s been very good at practice. The last two days in practice he’s been even better, so no doubt he’s going to help us quite a bit this year.”

Bringing out the competition

When asked Tuesday about the competitive nature of his team’s practice sessions, Wade noted there was no choice but for his players to fight each time they take the floor.

“Everything’s got to be competitive … it’s a competitive world,” he said. “When you leave here and go interview for a job, you either get it or you’re unemployed, right?

“There are consequences when you lose. It’s not like everybody pats themselves on the back and we move on. No, there’s a major problem. … It’s a five-alarm fire when you get beat, and you better figure out how you’re going to win.”

Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.