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Oladipo returns to Indiana Pacers for ‘1st day of school’

Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo poses during the NBA basketball team's media day in Indianapolis, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH-TV) — Class is officially in session.

A crazy-in-Indiana summer is over and the new faces are taking their places on the Indiana Pacers 2017-18 roster. That includes, a player who knows a thing or two about winning over the Hoosier state — Victor Oladipo.

“It is crazy. I feel like this is the first day of school,” Oladipo said. “I think I have everyone’s name down pat — for the most part.”

The youth movement in Indiana is headlined by Oladipo.

Entering his fifth professional season, the 6-feet-4 shooting guard for the first time will be the focal point of an NBA offense. The former Indiana University star knows the expectations around the league don’t pin the Pacers as a playoff team and that falls directly on the highest-paid player.

“It’s not a chip on my shoulder; it’s a brick,” Oladipo said. “Like a wall. I know that this organization believes in me and my ability. I can’t honestly say that for the first time in my career.”

Oladipo’s biggest asset this fall will be 21-year-old center Myles Turner. Tuner spent the off-season in Indianapolis, adding muscle to his frame and fine-tuning his ability to score in crunch time. On Monday, Turner spoke to his new leadership role, which even he is getting used to.

“It is crazy to think at this age I am a leader, but I am going to use this year as a learning experience,” Turner said. “I know we can compete this year. Guys are kind of downplaying us, keeping us out of the playing picture, but I think we have a chance to compete for a spot.”

Head Coach Nate McMillan survived the off-season overhaul and inherits a roster that lacks a single All-Star.

“We have the potential for nine new players on this roster,” McMillan said. “It is just an exciting time. We have some hungry guys and some guys that have something to prove.”

The sour taste of the Paul George saga were gone Monday. However, a slimmed-down Al Jefferson and re-energized Lance Stephenson were in attendance.

“I love it (being the underdog) because I have been doubted all my life and now my team is doubted,” Stephenson said. “When you are the underdog, you need to come in and prove everybody wrong.”

On Monday, McMillan only made two guarantees for the starting lineup this season: Oladipo at shooting guard and Turner at center.

Let the games begin at camp.