After chatting with Wisconsin’s star Frank Kaminsky yesterday, I discovered several fascinating similarities.

We went to the same high school, we’re both at least above average at organized sports and we’re both frequently mistaken around Chicago for Vince Vaughn’s cousin.

Aside from that, there is one other very unique similarity that Frank Kaminsky and I share.

You see, music motivates me to write. Music motivates Frank to play basketball. And like so many others, our lives are both inspired by music.

When I talked to Frank about a year ago, he told me his goal was to reach the Final Four. A few weeks later, he did.

After leading the Wisconsin Badgers to just their third Final Four appearance in school history last year – Kaminsky went on an absolute tear this season, averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds per game.

Last weekend, the Badgers won the Big Ten Tournament and earned a well-deserved No. 1 seed in this year’s dance. But this year, I didn’t talk to Frank about basketball.

I didn’t ask him about his personal life, necessarily. And I most certainly didn’t question him on his career as a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison neither.

This time around, our phone call was about music.

When I asked Frank to do an interview for an article about music, he wasn’t confused. He didn’t seem concerned that I wanted to know what type of music he listens to when he’s sad.

When I threw these oddly specific questions at him, he seemed to know what I was getting after.

“It just pumps me up,” Kaminsky told me. “When I put on my headphones, the whole world just goes away. And then, I can focus on what’s important.”

Perhaps it’s just his contagiously wacky persona, but Kaminsky didn’t shy away at all from talking about music. He didn’t mind telling me about his new favorite song – “I Want You To Know” by Zedd & Selena Gomez.

Then again, he wasn’t afraid to tell his 43,000 Twitter followers either.

Surely the incalculable progress of Kaminsky’s college career had to do with coaching, family, friends, hard work and discipline. But like anybody else, even the best college basketball player in the country needs a pick-me-up. 

Don’t get me wrong kids, just because you listen to Zedd on repeat doesn’t mean you’re going to play for Bo Ryan someday. That said, one can only assume that Frank’s admitted addiction to music is not isolated from his unquestionable development in the game of basketball.

Like so many others that find success, music is simply another tool that helped Frank achieve it.

[quote_right] “When I put on my headphones, the whole world just goes away.” [/quote_right]

Last week, Sporting News named Kaminsky their NCAA Player of the Year. In doing so, they summarized his development as a Wisconsin Badger to precision.

“Five years ago he was a 3-star prospect at Benet Academy in Lisle, Ill., ranked by as the fifth-best center prospect in his home state. Four years ago he averaged 1.8 points as a freshman…and now he is college basketball’s best player.” 

Before games, Frank only listens to EDM. 

His favorite artists include Calvin Harris and Sebastian Ingrosso, while Audien remains a long-time, personal favorite.

When he’s studying, Frank listens to classical music. He told me it helps him focus because “there are no words, just noise.”

When Frank is sad, he listens to Sum 41 or Blink 182. Apparently, 90’s punk rock bands are the key to getting the best college basketball player in the country out of a funk. 

Go figure.

If you’re surprised by the importance of music to Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, then don’t be. According to a report from Scientific American, the research behind “workout music” has swelled considerably over the last decade.

In fact, psychologists are beginning to reestablish their previous convictions on why exercise and music are such an effective pairing.

“Music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance. When listening to music, people run farther, bike longer and swim faster than usual—often without realizing it.”

According to Costas Karageorghis, one of the world’s leading experts on the psychology of exercise music, music could almost be considered “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug.”

So perhaps, and only perhaps, this ‘legal performance-enhancing drug’ is the only logical answer for Frank Kaminsky’s unlikely rise to college basketball stardom. 

Perhaps, it’s the reason he grew nearly two inches since

A screenshot of Frank's top-played songs on Spotify.

A screenshot of Frank’s top-played songs on Spotify.

committing to Wisconsin over four years ago. And perhaps, it’s the reason he still managed to gain 22 pounds in the process.

Or perhaps, music influences us more than we give it credit for.

After all – music can get you up in the morning, and it can put you to sleep at night. Music can make everything crystal clear, or it can make everything just go away.

Music has the power to motivate people in ways that nothing else can.

So, as you all watch Frank Kaminsky step onto the biggest stage of his basketball career, don’t be fooled into thinking it was the pregame pasta or the lucky rabbit’s foot that got him there.

For Frank and so many others – it took discipline, hard work and a pair of headphones.

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