Byron Sanders Commits to Carolina

The 2002 recruiting class is complete. <P> Coach Matt Doherty put the finishing touch on the class with the addition of 6-9, 215-pound senior forward Byron Sanders.

According to Sanders' coach at Gulfport (Miss.) Harrison Central, Rickey Stone, Sanders called him last night and informed him of the commitment at about 10 p.m.

"The opportunity for him to play at that level was important in choosing North Carolina," Stone said. "Knowing they have all the resources in place to be able to improve. He's realistic – he knows he's got areas to improve in."

After a slow start in which he had trouble getting used to double-teams, Sanders has come on strong and is averaging 13 points and 13.5 rebounds this season. Over the past eight games, he has averaged 20 points, 14 boards and five blocks per contest.

"He's thrilled with his decision," Stone said. "His mother works in our school system and is very academic-minded. They were very thorough academically."

"He's a first-class kid going to a first-class program," added Stone.

Sanders, who has a 3.6 GPA and scored a 20 on the ACT, is more of a defensive-minded player, and like 7-footer Damion Grant, who committed last week, he should be able to have little problems keeping up with Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, Jawad Williams and Jackie Manuel. His shortcomings are his lack of aggressiveness and his shooting ability.

Sanders and his parents were at Chapel Hill this past weekend and they took in the Virginia game. Prior to the trip, it was clear that the soft-spoken forward was favoring UNC.

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

Sanders opted for the Tar Heels over Tulane, South Alabama and LSU. Louisville also entered into the sweepstakes recently, but it was too late.

Sanders broke his thumb during his sophomore season and re-injured the thumb last year, which limited his production over the last two seasons. He averaged 10 points and 11 rebounds as a junior.

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