- Associated Press - Friday, June 24, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indiana Pacers had talked about landing a scoring guard come draft night.

Turns out, they didn’t get the guy they wanted with a pick.

The Pacers acquired hometown hero George Hill in a trade with the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night, backing up their talk of landing a scoring threat from the perimeter. They sent the 15th overall pick, Kawhi Leonard of San Diego State, to the Spurs in exchange.

Hill starred at IUPUI, then went to the Spurs in the first round of the 2008 draft. He played three years with the Spurs and averaged 11.6 points and 2.5 assists last season.

The Indianapolis native expressed his feelings on Twitter: “Very emotional moment right now!!! But just want to Thank Everyone for all the Support. SA has been great to me and will never forget it!!”

His future backcourt partner, Darren Collison, liked the trade.

“Great move for the team,” he said.

Indiana also sent its No. 42 pick, Davis Bertans, and Erazem Lorbek, its second-round pick in 2005, to the Spurs in the deal.

Team president Larry Bird said the team’s interest in Hill is nothing new.

“We talked to them about George the last couple years,” Bird said. “We’ve been talking to them the last couple weeks and we weren’t really sure whether there would be any interest or not.”

The Pacers were one of the league’s youngest teams last season, and they remained young while adding experience with the 25-year-old Hill. The Pacers made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2006, and they are ready to take another step.

“We got a lot of young guys, and now it’s time to fill in the holes,” Bird said. “He’s an experienced player, he’s been to the playoffs. He’s a big guard. We like him because we know he’s got length and can defend.”

IUPUI coach Todd Howard, who helped recruit Hill, is excited. Hill was the first IUPUI player ever drafted, and the school retired his jersey in 2010.

“I think it’s great for the Pacers, great for George and ultimately great for IUPUI,” Howard said. “He’s been an ambassador for our program, and it’s great that he’s going to have the opportunity to continue to showcase his skills in his hometown. George has been part of a winner in one of the league’s premier organizations and will bring that winning experience to the Pacers.”

The fact that Hill is from Indianapolis is just a bonus.

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