INDIANAPOLIS —  Summer league practice began at the Ascension St. Vincent Center on Friday with coach Ronald Nored’s team meeting.

The Blue and Gold’s sixteen man squad listened as the former Butler star instilled the need for strong defense throughout the summer, but reminded them the true importance of the next month is learning the ways of the organization.

“I want to win the championship as much as anyone, but learning is the priority,” said Nored, who was initially impressed by the early chemistry.

The pillar of learning was a sentiment echoed by rookies and second-year players alike, including Chris Duarte, who is back to practice after suffering a toe injury late last season.

“There’s always an opportunity to keep learning,” said Duarte. “I’m a leader now, but I still get to learn every day.”

All eyes were on sixth overall pick Bennedict Mathurin, who finally felt like an NBA player after putting on the jersey ahead of Friday’s practice.

“There are sixteen guys on the floor today, and it’s really a great thing,” said Mathurin. “It’s my first ever NBA practice. I’m so grateful.”

The Pacers will host six summer league practices before traveling to Las Vegas later in July. The first game is scheduled for Friday, July 8.