IC chats with Byron Sanders

There is a good chance that Matt Doherty and the Carolina staff will wrap up their recruiting class of 2002 as early as this weekend when Byron Sanders visits Chapel Hill.

With Jamaican 7-footer Damion Grant expected to commit tomorrow, one scholarship remains – and it appears that UNC is close to offering the 6-9, 215-pound Sanders. Slovenian forward Erazem Lorbek is also a possibility, but the Carolina staff may not want to wait for Lorbek to take a visit and then decide.

Sanders, a Gulfport (Miss.) Harrison Central senior, like Grant, is more defensive-minded. Both players are athletic and should have little trouble keeping up with the likes of Raymond Felton and Rashad McCants.

Sanders is scheduled to fly to Chapel Hill on Saturday morning while his parents make the drive to North Carolina. He will attend the Virginia game on Saturday.

Although Sanders wouldn't divulge whether he would accept Carolina's offer if it's put on the table, it's not difficult to read between the lines.

"If you were my age, wouldn't you go to Carolina?" he said.

While UNC's primary competition for Sanders' services came in the form of South Alabama and Tulane, a couple of bigger name schools have entered the mix recently. LSU has gotten involved and his coach, Ricky Stone, fielded a call from Louisville yesterday.

Sanders admitted that the biggest change over the past few months has come in the mental part of his game.

"I guess I'm just getting older and realizing what I have to do," he said. "I wasn't as aggressive as I should be. I just started getting crazy out there. … I started getting more dominant on the court when Carolina started calling."

Sanders scored 22 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked five shots with Doherty in attendance a couple weeks ago. After a slow start in which he was getting used to being double- and triple-teamed, Sanders has averaged about 20 points and 14 boards per contest over the past six games.

While Sanders' strength is clearly in his ability to rebound, block shots and run the floor, both he and Stone said he'll need to work on his shooting ability before he gets to Chapel Hill.

"I've got some of the moves down low, but I need to get better position," said Sanders, who has a 3.6 GPA and scored a 20 on the ACT. "I think if I get stronger, that'll help me."

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