"I'm going early to get a head start," he said. "I'm going to be on a weight program, get in shape and work on my game."
Although the local AAU program, the NC Gaters, expect Sanders to suit up for them this weekend at the Tournament of Champions, he hasn't heard anything about it.
"Nobody's told me about that," Sanders said. "I don't know anything about it, but I'll play if they want me to."
Sanders has already gained about seven pounds since he played his final high school game – a tough loss to Gulfport High in the Class 5A title game – but he wants to bulk up much more than that.
"I want to get stronger," Sanders added. "My main goal is to be at least 240 pounds before the season starts."
He said that UNC fans won't question his attitude and work ethic, and will be most surprised about his quickness on the court.
Sanders played in one local all-star game this year and was supposed to play in two more next month, but he won't be able to participate because he'll be taking classes in Chapel Hill.
While many kids are nervous at leaving home for college, Sanders didn't seem the least bit concerned about the adjustment.
"I'm used to it," he said. "I used to visit my brother in California for two or three weeks at a time when I was younger."
The thing he is looking forward to the most?
"Just putting on that uniform," he said. "It's a dream come true for me to play at North Carolina."
IC's Byron Sanders profile